Tomorrow the pads go on and the practice on the field continues to look more and more like football. The Cleveland Browns Training Camp Day 2 has come to an end. A day with a little less noise, a little less pizzazz but still a lot of interest, and interesting information after camp. Without further ado lets get to the notes:
The Curious Case of Jason Pinkston
That every other player, injured or not, have been noticed on the field or sideline him missing is a big concern. Pinkston has had some health issues in the past that were serious but he tweeted out that he was fine and it was up to the Browns to explain his absence:
Something is up, what it is we don’t know. Will we ever find out? Has Pinkston played his last down as a Brown? Hopefully not but at this point all we know is we don’t know much.
Wide Receiver Competition
Fans are rightfully concerned about the talent at the wide receiver position. While the talent may not be there it is quite possible that Kyle Shanahan will be able to make up for the lack of talent purely by design. Today there were plenty of notes coming in from the position including about relatively unknown Charles Johnson:
Johnson, claimed off the Packers practice squad but injured, could be a find for the Browns. He has the raw talent but doesn’t have the experience needed to really contribute. Hopefully vets Miles Austin and Nate Burleson can take him under their wing a bit. Speaking of Miles Austin, he had a great day on the field and a healthy version of Austin could go along way in making up for the expected loss of Josh Gordon. Ray Farmer also seems to hope that one of his young guys can become a future Austin:
Two other receivers making note that should have a huge impact on the Browns are Andrew Hawkins and Anthony Armstrong. Both receivers have speed that could greatly impact the Browns. Unlike standard teams the Browns may line up more size on the inside and speed on the outside to help take advantage of safety coverage. Shanahan also often uses “short splits” which keeps the outside receiver still inside the hash marks/numbers. These type of splits will give Hawkins and Armstrong a lot of room to work:
The offensive line is solid with presumed starters Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz and Joel Bitonio. The competition for the other guard spot was assumed to be between John Greco, Jason Pinkston and Garrett Gilkey. Greco’s injury and Gilkey’s skill, along with Pinkston’s mystery, could make that a one sided battle:
Gilkey pulling down hill could be huge in the Zone Blocking Scheme.
While Terrance West was the standout yesterday it doesn’t look like Ben Tate will be giving up his starting position easily. With the amount of running the Browns seem like they will do both Tate and West, along with possibly another back, will be needed this year. Tate has experience in running back battles but this time he is out in front and has to battle off the younger players. Competition will make both players better but for now it looks like Tate is in charge:
Like yesterday it looks like Brian Hoyer is well out in front against Johnny Manziel. Hoyer continues to make plays quicker and on time compared to Manziel. Both Pettine and Farmer continue to talk up Hoyer’s abilities and what they have seen from him as a leader. At this point, barring injury, we would be shocked if anyone but Hoyer took the reigns of the offense on Week 1. With the way each Pettine and Farmer speaks about competition and letting the best player win, we would also be moderately surprised if a healthy Hoyer didn’t start a vast majority of the games:
After spending most of the article on offense lets close out with defense, the side of the ball that most likely will carry this team this year. Pettine is a defensive guru and loves to be creative. OLB Paul Kruger lined up as a defensive tackle today while other linebackers moved all over the formation:
This type of creativity will get the best players on the field for the best time. Imagine a front 4 of Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, Kruger and Barkevious Mingo with Karlos Dansby and Christian Kirksey still on the field in a nickle package. Talk about a bunch of pass rushers. Speaking of nickle one player fans are expecting a ton out of, since he was their top pick this year, is Justin Gilbert. Yet according to our new favorite follow on Twitter he might have a tough time beating out Buster Skrine:
Gilbert is learning a ton of nuance about the professional game so this shouldn’t be a high level of concern. The type of press man to man coverage that the Browns will run will test any corner. Skrine has so far shown well in Browns Training Camp, giving the team a good problem to have and a perfect fit for the Pettine defense. Expect Gilbert to improve as camp goes on.
What excites you so far? What concerns you so far?