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What We Learned From the Start of Browns' Voluntary Veteran Minicamp

The Cleveland Browns kicked off their voluntary veteran minicamp on Tuesday and will run through Friday. Only teams that hired a new head coach this offseason can conduct such a minicamp, and it has to take place before the 2016 NFL Draft. It seems like a shock-factor that we're already seeing the likes of Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown taking snaps outdoors in Berea, especially with the draft just a little over a week away:

Based on various tweets from reporters and interviews with players and coaches, here are some notes we gathered from the start of the minicamp:

  • Offensive Line Situation: Absent was left tackle Joe Thomas. Since the minicamp is voluntary, he could have skipped it just for the sake of skipping it, but he had a very legitimate reason: he and his wife just had a new baby boy, their third child overall.

    At the other positions, Cameron Erving was working at center with Alvin Bailey at right tackle. Those guys should be penciled in as the starters to replace Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, but if Cleveland stockpiles on draft picks, we should see a rookie compete for one of those positions (probably right tackle).

    Hue Jackson cautioned everyone not to take where people line up too seriously so early in the offseason programs. Before the practice, Erving met with the media and talked about how it is a relief that he can just focus on one position now (center). He knows that Mack can't be replaced, but he hopes to form his own identity by being a "nasty" player and will use the criticism he received as a rookie as motivation to get better. Lastly, he said that he's gotten stronger this offseason, but thinks his problems as a rookie were more so related to technique than a lack of strength:
  • Shelton Throws Other Coaches Under the Bus: Second-year NT Danny Shelton also spoke to the media, saying that new defensive coordinator Ray Horton worked with him at the Senior Bowl last year and that he wants Shelton to become a leader on defense as a sophomore. Shelton also took the time to throw last year's defensive coaches under the bus:
    Shelton also said that he tried to lose weight this offseason -- he was shooting for something more drastic (maybe around 40 pounds), but he cut out probably around 15 pounds.

  • Kruger Was Nervous, But Now Full-Steam Ahead: With the Browns releasing a couple of veteran defensive players this offseason, OLB Paul Kruger thought he might be next on the chopping block. He did get something chopped off, though, as he's now sporting a short hair cut. He also expects to be used in a role he's been more comfortable with during his career: rushing the passer more and dropping into coverage less.

  • Quarterback Reps: We're already talking quarterback reps! Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown both reportedly took first-team snaps, with McCown having a few more snaps. Griffin's first pass during team drills was tipped and then intercepted by OLB Scott Solomon, who is back from injury. Connor Shaw is also back from injury as part of the quarterback group to go along with Austin Davis.

  • Renovations Continue in Berea: The next time fans go to training camp, they should notice some differences to the exterior of the facility, where it will extend out further than it used to. The player-related upgrades will be a better and improved location of the player lounge (pool table, televisions, etc) so that random staff members aren't passing by as players go in-and-out of the lounge, pools located right next to the training room, and more.
  • Other Notes: OLB Barekvious Mingo said he achieved his personal goal by gaining weight this offseason, but he wouldn't say how much that was. ... WR Terrelle Pryor worked at receiver and was praised by those in attendance. ... WR Andrew Hawkins was back in action after missing most of last season with multiple concussions. ... Players who were present but on the stationary bikes included CB Joe Haden, WR Brian Hartline, and S Don Jones. ... The Browns have four players at the minicamp on a tryout basis.