The Cleveland Browns began Day 1 of their mandatory minicamp session on Tuesday. One of the early headlines was that QB Brain Hoyer and QB Johnny Manziel would not be made available to the media for interviews during minicamp; therefore, we won't hear from either player again until training camp. I think that is a good thing because it will give us some fresher stories to look at. Our Day 1 minicamp report is below, derived from noteworthy news and nuggets from local media reports.
CLEVELAND BROWNS - DAY 1 MINICAMP RECAP (6/10/14)
- Bitonio Out Until Training Camp: We heard the rumors last week that OG Joel Bitonio had suffered an ankle injury, and today those rumors were confirmed to be true. Bitonio will be out until the start of training camp. In the mean time, the Browns used John Greco at left guard and Garrett Gilkey at right guard with the first-team offense.
What about Jason Pinkston? According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Pinkston left practice with an athletic trainer after just 15 minutes and was flexing his left hand.
- Kirksey on the Outside? Because the Browns are doing it, we will now refer to him as "Chris Kirksey" rather than "Christian Kirksey." Anyway, it was believed that Kirksey would compete for the starting inside linebacker role, and he probably will still do that, but he was also taking some reps at outside linebacker on Tuesday. There is such a thing as versatility, but think of it this way: would you expect to see Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard, or Barkevious Mingo taking reps on the inside?
- Hoyer With a Leg Up: The Browns are still waiting for QB Brian Hoyer to be cleared for full activity, but he's still getting some reps in minicamp. When comparing the performance of he and QB Johnny Manziel, the consensus among the local media was clear: Hoyer is far quicker with his reads and performing better at this point in time:
My grade for Manziel today: C-. You can just see the difference between him and Hoyer. Hoyer light years ahead, IMO. #Browns— Glenn Moore (@GlennMooreCLE) June 10, 2014
- Waiting Game Continues With Gordon: The Browns are still going through the waiting game on WR Josh Gordon, so they are continuing to give him reps with the first-team offense in the mean time. A question was posed to head coach Mike Pettine on the Bull & Fox show about Gordon's effort on some plays during practice. While Pettine said that they are aware of Gordon perhaps not going all-out on certain reps and are trying to address it, part of it is deceiving because Gordon makes things look so effortless.
- Armstrong Can Fly: In what is a carryover from the OTA sessions, WR Anthony Armstrong seems to be the veteran making the most of his opportunity. While WR Miles Austin continues to rest and WR Nate Burleson is still healing his arm, Armstrong is taking advantage of knowing the Kyle Shanahan offense. The latest was catching a deep ball from QB Johnny Manziel, beating CB Buster Skrine:
QB Johnny Manziel finds Anthony Armstrong for a 50-yard bomb, against the first-team defense. Most eventful play in minicamp thus far— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) June 10, 2014
Hoyer very obviously making reads in 7on7. Manziel locking in on guy he throws to. Hoyer also noticeably quicker getting ball out. #June— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 10, 2014
- Other Wide Receiver Notes: He's ready to play, but the coaches held WR Miles Austin out again. WR Nate Burleson had the cast removed from his arm and began doing some individual and positional drills. The undrafted free agent receiver who is trying to make an early impression is WR Chandler Jones. Jones reportedly caught a 55-60 yard pass from QB Brian Hoyer, beating S Josh Aubrey and CB Pierre Desir, according to Ulrich.
- Hawkins on Hard Knocks: Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins could be the breakout star of the offense this year, and after practice, he spoke about the team not being on HBO's Hard Knocks this year:
#Browns WR Andrew Hawkins has been on Hard Knocks w/CIN. Said wise decision for CLE to turn it down b/c some guys play to camera, lose focus— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) June 10, 2014
- Injury Notes: Besides the players already mentioned, the following players were sidelined with injuries: RB Edwin Baker, RB Dion Lewis, RB Jourdan Brooks, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Charles Johnson, WR Willie Snead, OT Chris Faulk, DE Billy Winn, ILB Brandon Magee, and ILB Tank Carder.
- Brownies: I saw pictures of Brownie the Elf at practice, but Ruiter points out that a Browns area scout had to wear the costume after losing a bet. ... Practice ended with CB Buster Skrine intercepting a pass by QB Johnny Manziel intended for TE Jordan Cameron. ... The Browns had a female line judge at practice.
With Mike Pettine's defense, both OLB Paul Kruger and OLB Jabaal Sheard said that they will be allowed to focus more on strictly rushing the passer this year vs. playing pass coverage. ... CB Justin Gilbert, who had various injuries throughout OTA's, returned to minicamp.
The Browns will be back on the practice field Wednesday for Day 2 of minicamp.