The Cleveland Browns officially opened their gates to training camp Thursday at 3 PM, allowing entrance to the many fans waiting in line. The weather was beautiful, with highs in the upper-60s and the sun shining brightly. Practices this year will always begin at 4 PM, and the first two days of camp do not permit pads or contact.
For those of you who are new readers to Dawgs By Nature, here is how our training camp recaps work: I go around and digest all of the reports and tweets made throughout the day by fans and media in attendance, and then summarize the noteworthy items in bullet point format. The original sources for all of the information used will be linked at the bottom of this post. I will attend a few practices myself, and when that happens, I will give more personal reports.
CLEVELAND BROWNS TRAINING CAMP REPORT - DAY 1 (7/25/13)
- Phil Taylor Sits Out: What better way to start our training camp report than to say, "for the second consecutive season, NT Phil Taylor did not take part in the first day of camp." Obviously, last year, Taylor was out due to a pectoral tear he suffered in the offseason. This year, it isn't even close to being as serious. Taylor had a sleeve on his left calf after straining it a week and a half ago. Rob Chudzinski said that Taylor is day-to-day and wasn't overly concerned about it. With Taylor out, DL John Hughes, not Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, filled in with the first-team defense.
- Old Habits Die Hard: Tipped passes were the plague of Browns QB Brandon Weeden as a rookie, and that is one of the major areas fans hope he can improve upon in 2013. I'm sure a lot of people groaned, then, upon seeing one of Weeden's passes batted down by OLB Jabaal Sheard, who was coming in on a blitz. That doesn't mean Weeden had a bad practice, though. ESPN Cleveland's Will Burge was asked by a fan if Jason Campbell or Brian Hoyer could challenge for a starting role, and Burge responded in favor of Weeden, saying, "it's obvious watching all three who is the best, and it's not even close."
- Little's Commitment to Excellence: There's a reason why I listed WR Greg Little as the Browns' No. 1 receiver in my training camp preview: he is the team's most polished young receiver and seems to have that thirst for doing anything he can to continue improving his game. Work ethic has never been a question for him, but now he's going the extra mile.
FOX 8's John Telich said that Little, "is more meticulous in his preparation and seems locked in physically and mentally." After speaking with reporters following practice, Little told the Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk that he was, "going inside to continue his study of Norv's San Diego wideouts." One of the highlights of practice was Little reaching back to catch a deep ball from QB Brandon Weeden while CB Joe Haden was in coverage.
- New Number, Rough Start: Earlier this offseason, we knew about WR Greg Little and WR Davone Bess exchanging jersey numbers (Little is No. 18 now, Bess is No. 15 now). WR Josh Gordon also has a new jersey number, switching from No. 13 to No. 12. Unfortunately, the change did not help Gordon get off to a great start in camp.
The first potential negative of the day came when QB Brandon Weeden was picked off by CB Chris Owens on a pass down the sideline intended for Gordon. Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer speculated that Gordon might have cut his route short.
The other negative for Gordon on Day 1 came when he dropped a deep pass fromWeeden near the end of practice after a double move on Owens. Gordon appeared hurt after the play and left the field to be checked on by trainers. After practice, Rob Chudzinski labeled it as a cramp.
- Greco Gets Rewarded: For the majority of the offseason programs, OG John Greco lined up with the first-team offense. That's where he was on Day 1 of training camp, his first practice since being given a five-year contract extension. Greco played left guard with the first-team defense, while OG Shawn Lauvao was at right guard. OG Jason Pinkston was with the second-team offense at left guard. We'll see if Pinkston and Lauvao rotate in the coming days.
- Cornerback Alignment: According to Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan, CB Buster Skrine was the other starting cornerback on the outside in two-receiver sets. When the nickel defense was brought in, Skrine moved to the slot and CB Chris Owens came in to play the outside. Rookie third-round CB Leon McFadden played with the second-team defense. Owens tried to make a splash right off the bat, with the previously mentioned interception of Weeden, and he tipped away a couple of passes.
- Joe Thomas Gets Into It: It did not take long for the first "camp fight" to break out, and guess what? Joe Thomas was involved! The details of exactly what went down are unclear, but several players were reportedly involved in a pile-up scuffle, and at the bottom of the pile emerged Thomas, who "wasn't even in" at the start of the play. DL Brian Sanford and some offensive linemen reportedly started the whole jostling before Thomas jumped in. No worries, though, as the almighty one was ready to sign autographs after practice.
- Failing to Take Advantage of Opportunities: Even if it is Day 1 of training camp, most of these players are trying to prove themselves to a new coaching staff. WR Josh Cooper did not help his roster hopes when he dropped a deep touchdown pass from QB Brian Hoyer after beating CB Leon McFadden, according to Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram.
Another player who had a poor day of practice was TE Jordan Cameron, who is trying to secure the starting job at tight end. According to Ruiter, Cameron, "dropped a few balls and struggled at times prompting offensive coordinator Norv Turner to yell at him after he missed an assignment." That could help open the door more for TE Gary Barnidge, who was already seeing more reps on Thursday because blocking TE Kellen Davis missed practice due to a sprained knee.
- Thanks, Graham: I gave K Shayne Graham my vote of confidence in my 53-man roster projection. How does he re-pay me?
Thanks a lot, Graham.
- Brownies: The Browns had 2,692 fans show up on Day 1 of camp, and Berea can host up to 3,000 fans. ... RB Trent Richardson got the first carry in team drills, and all of the media seemed to approve the way he looked health-wise. ... Richardson says he weighs 225 pounds, which is a bit lighter than last year. ... Jimmy Haslam spoke with the media as practice was getting underway. ... WR Travis Benjamin had a solid day of camp, much like he did at camp in 2012. ... Vic Carucci said that practice was very up-tempo, and that "the routes were usually fairly deep, with very little dink-and-dunk stuff." ... He also praised WR Davone Bess because he "ran ultra-precise routes and consistently caught the ball." ... Jim Brown spoke to the team with RB Trent Richardson before practice started.
Link Collection / Training Camp Sources