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Cleveland Browns Training Camp Report: Day 8 - Manziel on the First-Team Offense

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Erik Drost on flickr

After having Sunday off, the Cleveland Browns were back in Berea for Day 8 of training camp. It didn't take long for the biggest story of the day to break: it was finally QB Johnny Manziel's day to get first-team reps with the offense. How did he do, and how did QB Brian Hoyer fare when saddled with the second unit?

CLEVELAND BROWNS TRAINING CAMP REPORT - DAY 8 (8/4/14)

  1. What's He Doing Here? Before practice started, the media couldn't help but notice that WR Josh Gordon's car had pulled into the parking lot. Sure enough, when practice started, Gordon was on the field and ready-to-practice -- a surprise for everybody, considering his appeal hearing was set to continue Monday. As we later learned, Gordon's appeal hearing would continue at noon without him being their in-person, but Gordon left practice early so he could join the hearing over the phone.

  2. Big Start for Johnny Football: QB Johnny Manziel couldn't have asked for a better first play in his opportunity to lead the first-team offense. He dropped back and completed a 40-yard pass to WR Travis Benjamin, with CB Joe Haden in coverage. Here is a video clip of the play. When you look at that play, it wasn't necessarily a great throw -- Haden probably should have broken the play up. Give credit to Benjamin for fighting for the ball, though.

  3. Johnny Up, Johnny Down: If you would have read Twitter after Manziel's completion to Benjamin, I think some people wanted to use it as validation that he was ready to be the starter. Unfortunately for Manziel, the rest of the day was pretty down.

    According to Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram, on his next pass,  Manziel "threw into double coverage over the middle for WR Josh Gordon" and the ball was "tipped by S Jim Leonhard and then intercepted by SS Donte Whitner."

    In team drills, reports say that Manziel was just 6-of-17 in passing for the day. After practice, head coach Mike Pettine said that this was a planned day for Manziel to get some first-team reps, and was not indicative at all of any recent performances by the quarterbacks. I'd expect Hoyer to be back with the first-team offense soon.

  4. Two-Minute Hoyer: Neither quarterback set the world on fire, but QB Brian Hoyer thrived in exactly the same scenario he did a year ago: closing out a football game. The Browns practiced two-minute drills at the end of practice, and Hoyer led the Browns to a 36-yard field goal by K Billy Cundiff, set up by a couple of passes to WR Anthony Armstrong. Manziel's two-minute drill produced a three-and-out. In team drills, Hoyer was reportedly 11-for-22 in passing.

  5. Phil Taylor Returns to Action: Aside from the sad news involving OG Jason Pinkston, the return of NT Phil Taylor to practice means that the Browns are about as healthy as you can get at this point in training camp. Now, they just have to make it unscathed through four preseason games. Taylor had tweaked his hamstring during his conditioning test at the start of camp, and will ease his way back into things. It is uncertain whether he'll play against the Lions this Saturday.

  6. Boxing Gloves for the Defensive Backs: In a fun-sounding drill, the Browns' defensive backs had to wear boxing gloves when matched up against eligible receivers. It is an attempt to force the defensive backs to not grab and hold on to receivers, which NFL officials will be more strict about in 2014.

  7. Big Plays for Snead & Austin: Do you see a recurring trend? While WR Taylor Gabriel's name comes up every so often and WR Jonathan Krause and WR Charles Johnson never get mentioned, the staple of consistency among the younger receivers is WR Willie Snead. Not only is he getting valuable reps, he's capitalizing.

    Snead was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from QB Connor Shaw with S Darwin Cook in coverage, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Multiple reports say that Snead later had a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown from QB Brian Hoyer after he reportedly "smoked CB Pierre Desir."

    Speaking of Desir, in 7-on-7 drills, WR Miles Austin caught a 60-yard pass from Hoyer with Desir in coverage. As Austin was headed for the end zone, though, Desir knocked the ball free, and in trying to recover it, Austin booted the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. Opps!

  8. Whitner the "Blitzner:" Forgive the play on words, but this was an interesting nugget from Kevin Jones of Browns.com, who makes it sound like SS Donte Whitner could be used near the line like T.J. Ward was at times last year:
    On the very first play of Saturday’s scrimmage, safety Donte Whitner lined up as a blitzer and made his way through the offensive line for a sack. During several plays on Monday, Whitner was lined up next to a blitzing outside linebacker. It seems as if the Browns have big plans to use Whitner as a disruptive force in the backfield.

  9. Injury Report: TE Jordan Cameron was riding the stationary bike after dinging his shoulder in Saturday's scrimmage. OL Reid Fragel went down and was holding his knee before having to be carted off the field. FS Tashaun Gipson remained sidelined with a sprained knee. ILB Tank Carder, OL Randall Harris, and CB Isaiah Trufant did not practice. ILB Darius Eubanks and OT Martin Wallace both returned to action.

  10. Brownies: With FS Tashaun Gipson out, the Browns rotated S Jim Leonhard and S Jordan Poyer in with the first-team defense. ... OG John Greco and OG Garrett Gilkey continued to rotate reps at right guard with the first- and second-team offenses. ... QB Tyler Thigpen threw two interceptions, one to DB Robert Nelson and the other to DB T.J. Heath.

    Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal says that CB Justin Gilbert played with the first-team defense over CB Buster Skrine during the two-minute drill. ... WR Willie Snead was the quarterback for WR Travis Benjamin in high school (h/t Browns.com). ... The defense will wear the orange jerseys on Tuesday, in large part due to Thigpen's miscues. ... There were 3,307 fans in attendance.

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