Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini spoke with the media Thursday to field questions about the team. Now that Mangini has actually had the opportunity to see some of the players in action, his responses can hold a little more weight in the back of our minds.
(Opening statement) - “Welcome back. What we are trying to get done, this is really the first time that we have been able to work together as a whole team, which is always exciting. You had the rookies - that was getting to know them and us working with each other. That was out first time on the field, but now being together with the full team it’s a great opportunity for us to start this phase of our preparation.
What we are trying to get accomplished with this camp, the second mini-camp and OTA days is give them a chance to get to know us. Give them a chance to get to know what the expectations are, how we do things. Give us a chance to evaluate them to see the things that they can do and really lay the foundation for training camp and essentially laying the initial foundation for the season. We’ve had a couple good days. There has been a lot of information thrown at the players. I think they have responded well. We will continue to do that today and into next week. The way that I structure these practices is the same way that we will give them information during the course of the season.
The first day tends to be more of a first and second down day, like you would have on a Wednesday during the week. The next day tends to be emphasis on third down and some review of what we did the previous day. Today will be more of a red area type emphasis, like you would on a typical Friday, so they get used to learning the information in that pattern. I’ve done it the other way where you do all first down, you may do that for three days, then you do all third down, and do that, but I really believe if you can develop a pattern of learning the same way, then you get used to it. You get used to absorbing information and thinking in those terms. That’s how I structure the install and it will follow that pattern, not just here but also throughout training camp.”
Thoughts: Just a consensus from reading fans comments over at the OBR -- Mangini sounds a lot more fluent and comfortable speaking that Crennel ever did. And, Mangini is more decisive on his assessments. He's not going to say "the other guy might have a leg up in the competition (chuckle)".
(On dividing the reps at quarterback) - “It is definitely even. We track everything as we go, in terms of how many throws, types of plays so that there is balance and you’re looking at it as much as possible. Brady (Quinn) will get the first reps today, he started with the first reps on Wednesday and that’s because he’s done a really outstanding job in the offseason program. Not that Derek (Anderson) hasn’t done well but he got the edge so he took the first reps. There’s no overwhelming significance to that. It’s just that first day, I thought Brady had a little bit of an edge so he got the first reps there, but the goal is balance.
We actually track all of the reps that the players take every day in practice. At any point I could say, “Kamerion Wimbley has gotten 57 snaps and David Bowens has gotten 25 or whatever it is we need to do to shift the numbers.” We actually track every rep, every day of every player. At any point the player can come in and say, ‘Well look, you’ve had 500-something reps in practice, I think you’ve gotten a really good opportunity to show what you can do.’ And also it allows me to constantly adjust the amount of reps to make sure guys are balanced and really getting the things that they need. You can lose track of that pretty easily as a coordinator or head coach, there’s just so many guys, so many reps but we track it all.”
Thoughts: I wonder who keeps track of all those reps. There are quite a few players in camp; my guess would have to be that each position coach is in charge of tallying the reps.
(On if Brett Ratliff is in the open completion at quarterback) - “I am going to look at that position completely. It’s one of those things where he will get opportunities and there will be a rotation there as well, and there will be some days where any of the four quarterbacks could be the one, any could be the two, any could be the three and the four, but right now my primary focus is with Brady and Derek.”
Thoughts: I reported this quote yesterday; in reality, neither Ratliff or Bartel should contend for the starting role. If Ratliff impresses Mangini like he did last year though, it creates more options to ship Anderson away for a third- or fourth-round pick during training camp.
(On Jerome Harrison) - “He has done a really nice job these first two days. I’ve been really happy with what I’ve seen from him. It is extremely early but he’s done a nice job, whether it’s with blitz pickups, his check downs, the route, hitting his aiming points, the way that he has worked, where he is physically; I think all of those things have been positive.”
Thoughts: RB Jamal Lewis has not been able to participate in minicamp after having ankle surgery; he should be back by training camp. With respect to Harrison, I'm so happy that Jason Wright isn't on our roster anymore to take reps away from him. It's nice to hear he has picked up the blitz well, but I still question who on our team can actually execute a successful NFL blitz.
(On replacing Kellen Winslow’s production) - “What we are always trying to do offensively, and the way that you design everything, is we’re going to attack that opponent’s weaknesses and maximize your strengths and always be game plan specific. Sometimes that will mean running 50 times, sometimes that will mean passing 50 times. It’s no set pattern; it’s based on where we feel we could be most successful. Offensively, the goal is for us to collectively do our job and if we have the right spacing in our routes, the right protection, the right reads, the production will come. I always feel that whether it’s offensive of defensive production, it’s not one person, it’s a group.”
Thoughts: In other words, you won't replace Winslow's production with any individual player, but by having an efficient offensive gameplan in general.
(On how Martin Rucker looks) - “He has done some good things so far. It’s been two days worth of work, but he’s done a couple of good things. He caught a nice double move the first day, went up there and got it so that was good to see. He is learning like everybody else. It’s a little different then most camps because the whole group is learning information. It’s positive in a lot of ways because it levels the playing field for even the rookies because it’s first time for everyone at the same spot.”
Thoughts: Doesn't really sound like the same, exciting report that Harrison received.
(On if there are currently any talks with Joshua Cribbs) - “I’ve talked with Josh and Josh is a guy that I’ve had good talks with since I have been here. We were actually talking in here this morning and spent some time with him and I’m looking forward to him being out there. These are voluntary camps so it’s not a mandatory situation; everybody has to make the decision whether to attend or not to attend. But I can tell you that there is a ton of information going in. It is an opportunity for us to see all of the different players. When you’re here you get those reps, when you’re not you don’t. Getting the reps and learning that’s always a positive thing.”
(On if Cribbs is missing a lot by missing camp) - “It’s like anything else, if you’re trying something new, you’ve got to see how it works. You can’t see how it works unless you’re there.”
(On who else isn’t at camp) - “We have some different players that have been excused who were here and asked and said, ‘I can’t make it today because of personal reasons.’ Things like that. It is voluntary and you will see the guys that are out there.”
(On if he talked to Joshua Cribbs this morning) - “Yeah, I talked to him before I came down here. He was here this morning, he was at the squad meeting and I met with him afterwards. Josh and I always have really good conversations. He is a likeable funny guy. I look forward to seeing him out there.”
(On if Cribbs will be practicing today) - “I am not sure whether or not he will be taking part.”
(On how many position meetings Cribbs will be in) - “He hasn’t been here so it’s really hard to tell.”
(On if it is tough to discuss contracts with a player he has never coached) - “I don’t really discuss contracts in general, publicly those are internal things. With any new situation you have to evaluate all of the players on the team and evaluate where you are. The best way to do that is on the field.”
(On how long Cribbs has been here) - “Today was the first day that I talked to him here (during minicamp).”
Thoughts: Enough with the Cribbs chatter already, eh? Let's hope we see him settle for a higher contract than he currently has, but not too high.
(On who is getting reps at the number two receiver spot) - “(Offensive Coordinator Brian) Daboll coined this phrase and it’s pretty accurate, we don’t really have a depth chart we have a rep chart. The way it’s designed, there will be some guys moving around, not based on where they are on the rep chart but based on us wanting to see that player run that route. We may want to see (Brian) Robiskie run a comeback, we may want to see Braylon (Edwards) run a certain type of route so we might switch those guys around to get the things that we would like to see them doing, we would like them to experience doing.
It’s not formatted in such a structured way that they have to get one, two, three or four, five, six, sometimes he could be getting, one, two and six because that’s what we want to take a look at. There are a lot of guys, too, as you will see out at practice that are moving to different spots, working guys who traditionally work on the right on the left, working guys at center, guard, tackle and on different sides. All of that is about evaluation, about assessing comfort level, giving them experience at different spots and also building versatility.”
Thoughts: For this one, I legitimately believe there isn't a No. 2 yet. That will be settled in training camp, when it's Brian Robiskie vs. Mohamed Massaquoi vs. Mike Furrey. Scratch
Syndric Steptoe, please. Depending on what we pay him, maybe you can also throw Joshua Cribbs' name into that mix. Not David Patten, though.
(On if Braylon Edwards is at camp) - “Yes. Braylon has been here. He has done a great job these first two days. I think like the rest of the group, everybody is different in working out versus doing specific football moves. We are all getting used to that.”
(On if he spoke with Braylon concerning trade talks) - “I feel comfortable talking to anybody about anything and that’s one of the points I made to the players in the first meeting, is that if there is ever an issue to come talk to me because I think it’s important to not let little things become big things. We’ve all seen how easy that could happen and the better the communication the better you can address those things. I’m always open to talking to anybody.”
(On if they spoke specifically about trade talks) - “We have not talked about that specific thing. The things that we’ve focused on are practice, adjustments and routes, football related stuff.”
Thoughts: The OBR has a nice story here about Edwards stating that he had to look the other way with all of the trade "rumors" during the offseason. Edwards also states that he would've hated to have been traded this year, because it would've left a bad taste in his mouth knowing that he didn't have the chance to make up for last year's mess.
(On if Hank Fraley is getting work at guard) - “As I said, it’s going to fluctuate. George Warhop has done a really nice job of moving those guys around, sometimes where I have to look and say ‘Ok, he’s here and he’s there.’ That’s what I want the coaches to do. I want them to put guys in different spots so we can look at it. I would anticipate that he would, but whether or not that is on the schedule for today I’m not 100 percent sure.”
Thoughts: I think it's kind of early to shift Fraley to the guard position (in minicamp?). After Alex Mack, you still need a veteran center. We can worry about his reps at guard come training camp.
(On Robaire Smith’s health) - “Robaire is still rehabbing and he is doing a good job of rehab. The thing with any injury, the thing that we do is we put together the best program that we can from a rehab perspective, expect the guys to work as hard as they can on that aspect of it and then gauge it. It’s very systematic and it’s very thought out. And with any injury, timetables are different, so the goal is to just make as much progress as you can and get them out as quickly as possible.”
(On the depth at defensive line) - “I think that’s going to be a very competitive spot. We’ve kept different amounts of defensive lineman each team that I’ve been with, each year that I have been a part of that team. I think it is a competitive group and the goal there is to build flexibility and define a role whether on first and second down or second and third or just third. We will have to see how all that plays out.”
Thoughts: By default, there's a chance Smith will lose his starting job to Mangini-favorite Kenyon Coleman. Nonetheless, Smith is a solid player when healthy; I hope he is able to get back to full strength.
(On if the Browns have a new head physician) - “We are still working on the medical side of it and that’s something we’ll continue to work on and when we have an announcement, I’ll let you know.”
(On why the Cleveland Clinic would make an announcement) - “You will have to talk to the Cleveland Clinic.”
Thoughts: The "he said, she said" game. I think it's safe to say that Dr. Richard Figler is the team's new head physician, and not just because the Plain Dealer reported on it last week.
Round-Up: A fairly informative press conference; I just can't wait for training camp to get here already!