Cleveland Browns: Training Camp Day 9 recap
The Cleveland Browns made a lot of news before Monday’s training camp session, backing it up with a solid practice.
Although the news of Robert Griffin III being named the starting quarterback dominated Monday’s headlines, what will be overlooked is just how productive of a day the Cleveland Browns had on the practice field in Berea. The players once again came to training camp focused, despite all of the outside noise regarding the quarterback situation, and put in a solid day of work.
But while the practice was another clean one on both sides of the ball, most of the conversation still surrounded the breaking news of Griffin being named the starter Monday morning.
“We’re looking forward to him doing a great job here this year,” head coach Hue Jackson said in his press conference. “He played the way I think a quarterback has to play. I think he did it flawlessly.”
While the decision didn’t surprise anyone around the league, the trust Jackson put in Griffin to make the announcement this early is indicative of just how valuable the Browns think the 26-year-old can be.
“I make a choice and I stand behind it,” coach Jackson said to assure fans that this decision is final.
The quarterback situation is uncertain behind Griffin, likely making the decision even easier. But it is important that the quarterbacks behind Griffin on the depth chart are all in and understand the choice that had to be made. As far as 37-year-old Josh McCown is concerned, this is fortunately most certainly the case.
“You want to be on the field, you want to play, but at the same time it’s so much bigger, and it’s about a team,” McCown told the media in reaction to the decision.
As for Friday night’s game in Green Bay, Jackson told the media that he is still unsure about how long Griffin will play or even when, but realizes the need for all of his starters to see some action against a true opponent.
In other positive news from Berea Monday, cornerback Joe Haden returned to practice, as he is no longer physically unable to perform. Haden participated only in individual drills during practice to ease back into his routine, and isn’t expected to participate in Friday’s preseason friendly against the Packers.
But the fact Haden is finally back on the practice field is a relief to many fans, and encouraging news in his recovery. It is now almost certain that the leader of Cleveland’s defense will be at 100 percent on opening day.
“It’s just great to have him back out there in a uniform and bouncing around. I’m excited about him being out there. He’s one of our better defensive players and one the better players in the league,” Jackson said of the two-time Pro Bowler. As for when Haden will return to team drills, Jackson made it very clear that the coaching staff is in no hurry to rush one of their best players back to action.
“We have a plan in place, and we’re just going to take our time,” Jackson said.
Even with Haden back however, the Browns are still awaiting the return of one more potential superstar to the practice field. Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who is battling injury issues, looks to return in the near future. His positive attitude at the training facility is promising, but the Browns would like more from the capable big play threat.
“I’m looking forward to getting him out here on the field with the rest of the guys,” Jackson said about Gordon.
On the field on Monday, one of the fiercest competitions for a starting job continued as the coaching staff continued to seek their starting right tackle. Offensive lineman Austin Pasztor lined up at the position during practice Monday, adding his name to a wide field of candidates for the opening.
The coaching staff remains relatively quiet about the competition, likely due to the fact the media rarely asks about it, it being a less than glamorous role. However, what is known is that the coaching staff is also considering Alvin Bailey, and rookies Shon Coleman and Spencer Drango for the starting right tackle spot, a critical position on this offensive line.
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Another positive aspect which has persisted for most of camp is the lack of serious injuries. In fact, three players returned to practice besides Haden on Monday from their respective minor injuries. Center Cameron Erving, fullback Malcolm Johnson and tight end Randall Telfer appear to be completely recovered.
Unfortunately, receivers Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins are still dealing with hamstring issues, as Coleman sat out practice after sitting out the scrimmage on Saturday. These hamstring injuries are minor, and Jackson labels them “unavoidable.” Still though, this raises the question of depth at the receiver position, which the Browns have an abundance of.
At this point, there is a lot to be excited about due to this playmaking ability from multiple sources on offense. When healthy, this offense could be more dangerous than any recent Browns offense if they continue to progress at the rate at which they currently are. This, of course, is a credit to their youth and depth.
Next: The QB situation behind RG3
The Browns will be back at practice on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. The next three days will be mostly preparation for Friday night’s preseason opener in Green Bay against the Packers. The full training camp schedule for future training camp sessions can be found here, and free general admission tickets can be reserved here.