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Cleveland Browns Training Camp Report: Day 4 - Defense Comes to Play

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Day 4 of Cleveland Browns training camp took place on Tuesday in front of another packed house -- 3,503 fans. That isn't quite as high as the first two days of camp, but it's a couple hundred fans more than Monday's session. The weather was beautiful once again, so let's get to how things went down.

CLEVELAND BROWNS TRAINING CAMP REPORT - DAY 4 (7/29/14)

  1. Dangling the Carrot: Anyone who is a competitive sports person knows that when something is declared a competition, that feeling just kicks into your body: we have to win. On Tuesday, Browns head coach Mike Pettine ended practice with a new drill: offense vs. defense, 11-on-11s, in a best-of-five series.

    The offense needed to gain 20 yards without reaching a fourth down, otherwise the defense would be credited with a win. The winning side would get to wear orange jerseys during Thursday's practice (the team is off on Wednesday). Those orange jerseys represent a sense of pride and accomplishment; the feeling of "winning" and "losing" that can make sports so joyous or heart-wrenching. Which unit came out on top?

  2. Things Get a Little Chippy: Before we answer the question of which unit won the best-of-five series, it's important to mention that the offense and defense were at odds on Tuesday, treating this like a fierce rivalry. Pettine challenged the players to be more aggressive, and the defense took notice.

    Reports say that the first scuffle came when OLB Eric Martin "threw RB Dion Lewis to the ground with one hand." A little later, RB Ben Tate took a hit from DE Ahtyba Rubin. Tate didn't like it and responded by throwing the football at Rubin, and that is supposedly when all hell broke loose. It has been said that 20 or so players were involved in the scuffle, and the general chippiness continued throughout the rest of practice. Therefore, you can imagine how the stakes for that final best-of-five competition had to feel even higher for the players.

  3. Defense Prevails: The defense dominated practice in general, and that carried over to the best-of-five series. The offense could not gain 20 yards in three-of-four attempts, which means the defense won the competition and the honor of wearing orange jerseys on Thursday.

  4. Hoyer & Manziel Both Struggle: After both of the team's top quarterbacks had been making progress the past couple of days, both quarterbacks struggled on Tuesday as they could not overcome the onslaught put on by the defense. From the media reports...

    -Hoyer was 5-of-11 in team drills, with an interception by CB Justin Gilbert on a pass intended for WR Miles Austin.
    -Manziel was 1-of-8 in team drills, with interceptions by S Jordan Poyer and S Josh Aubrey
    -Tom Reed
    of the Plain Dealer says that neither quarterback completed a pass of more than 25 yards on the day.

    The quarterbacks will have time to regroup for Thursday, when live tackling will be permitted during practice (although I'm sure the quarterbacks will be afforded some level of protection).

  5. Diles Takes Some First-Team Reps: Veteran ILB Zac Diles took reps with the first-team defense in place of ILB Karlos Dansby, who had the day off. The only news in that is that Diles could have a leg up on someone like ILB Tank Carder or ILB Darius Eubanks, neither of whom we've heard much about this camp. This is the first we've heard of Diles this camp, too, so maybe we'd better wait for the preseason to make our evaluations here.

  6. A Different Perspective on OG: Some reports have sugar-coated the team's offensive guard situation, as if things might be fine with OG Joel Bitonio and OG Garrett Gilkey starting. However, Will Burge of WTAM has another take:
    The offensive line was once again bullied on Tuesday. Mitchell Schwartz, Joe Thomas and Alex Mack have all looked solid but the guard positions and backups have really struggled. The line would have allowed a number of sacks if they were permitted. Today [Garrett Gilkey] and Joel Bitonio took the snaps at guard with the first team offense. I have a feeling they will also be the starters on September 7th when the Browns open in Pittsburgh.

  7. Barnidge is Back: It's time to bust out the popcorn, because TE Gary Barnidge returned to action on Tuesday as he was removed from the non-football injury list. Barnidge was mostly involved in blocking drills in his first day back, and had a nice one on DL Cam Henderson, according to Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram. Barnidge says that he did not have conditioning problems, but rather dehydration problems.

  8. CB Depth: Right now, CB Buster Skrine and CB Justin Gilbert are just working on the outside, which is why CB Isaiah Trufant continues working as the nickelback with the first-team defense. With how Pettine talked after practice, there is no way that Trufant gets cut, which is bad news for CB Leon McFadden. Pettine added that soon, other players who will get some work at nickelback will include Skrine, CB Aaron Berry, and CB K'Waun Williams.

  9. When You Know Gabriel is for Real: Our friend Rick Grayshock at Waiting for Next Year says that he talked to a CFL scout who was at Browns practice today. One of the players the scout had his eyes on? WR Taylor Gabriel, who has had a great start to camp. I can't wait to see him during the preseason.

  10. Injury Updates: DE Billy Winn, NT Phil Taylor, and OG John Greco are all still recovering from injury. There are no further updates on the status of OG Jason Pinkston. OL Randall Harris left the field with a trainer.

  11. Brownies: Pettine said that WR Marlon Moore was signed so they would have an extra body while WR Josh Gordon is having his appeal hearing, and when WR Travis Benjamin/WR Charles Johnson have scheduled days off. ... ESPN's Pat McManamon said that ILB Craig Robertson made a couple of nice plays on special teams. ... OT Martin Wallace got involved in two of the scuffles during practice, one with DL John Hughes and the other with DE Armonty Bryant. ... Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram says that WR Andrew Hawkins was doing some good work as a gunner on special teams. ... Pettine praised DE Ahtyba Rubin for his ability as a run defender. ... Machine Gun Kelly was a guest at practice today.

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