August arrived in earnest on Monday in Berea, as the Cleveland Browns held day four of training camp in front of over 2,000 fans. The heat led head coach Hue Jackson to conclude practice 45 minutes early, due to the humidity and players’ fatigue.
By all accounts, the Browns enjoyed a solid day of practice, though not quite on par with Jackson’s standards.
- The tune of Jackson’s opening statement sounded different today, as the head coach said the team wasn’t as sharp as he’d like. One reason might have been that the players were in pads today, as Jackson wants to get his players in “football pad shape.”
“When you don’t turn the ball over, that’s good on offense, but on defense, we need to get more turnovers. We need to get the ball out just a little bit more. I like the energy of our football team. I like that they come back out. They’re in the middle of a lot of installation offensively, defensively and special teams, but I think they’ve handled that well. I give a lot of credit to our veteran players because I think they understand the process and so they’re trying to bring the young guys along each and every day.”
- Speaking of, Jackson cut practice short today, due in part to the heat and the pads, and another surprising reason — the sports science staff. Yes, Jackson is actually listening to the Harvard guys.
“I kind of know when we’re at that point where it’s getting a little too much and then you back off a little bit. I think that’s a feel thing. I have some very good advisors with our strength staff and our sports science staff, who I trust. I feel really good about the information given to me. We’re a collaborative group, work together and make sure our team stays as healthy as we can.”
- Despite a cold start to camp, Robert Griffin III seems to be improving, at least in Jackson’s eyes. His praise wasn’t too glowing, however, so don’t expect Jackson to crown Griffin as the starter tomorrow.
“There are some things that he’s done really well and there are some things that he’s got to continue to improve on just like every quarterback that we have out there. They’re learning the system, and I wish you guys could see our installation. We’re dumping it on them pretty hard and there’s quite a bit going in because once we get through about Day 6 of this, all our offense is in, all of our offense, special teams and defense is in. Now, it’s just about fine tuning everything.”
- In the past, coaches have viewed wide receiver Andrew Hawkins as simply a slot receiver. Jackson sees the former Bengal as more than just a slot guy.
“No, I view him as a wide receiver. I think there’s nothing he can’t do. I just think what we’re doing know because we have so guys to evaluate, I know exactly who Andrew Hawkins is and what he can do for our football team. I’m going to find out about some other guys. Right now, where I think he fits today for what we’re doing is right there, but I think there is nothing that he couldn’t do for our football team.”
- Few characters are as interesting Chad Johnson (the wide receiver formerly known as Chad Ochocinco). Just as quickly as Johnson, a close friend of Jackson, joined the coaching staff, Johnson left mysteriously. Today, Jackson explained the former star wideout’s departure.
“When Chad has been here – obviously, Chad hasn’t been here lately. As I said, Chad came down. I think everybody thought he was going to be here the whole time. I knew he wasn’t. Chad came as a guest of mine. I wanted him to see what this is going to be like. I knew at some point in time Chad needed to go do what Chad needed to do. I think his time here was very beneficial because guys were able to ask him questions about playing in the National Football League – what were the characteristics that the great players carry and what they were like. I think guys asked him those questions. It was good for me to have him around. Chad is very close to me as we all know. At the same time, I think he found out that this business is rough. There are a lot of hours that we keep, and I don’t think Chad’s used to that.”
Gee, a prima donna wide receiver afraid of a little hard work? Who would have thought it?
As Jackson said, Johnson might be back from time to time, but in the meantime, Johnson will return back to his normal life.
WR Terrelle Pryor
- It should come as no surprise, but Pryor loves making the big play. The converted wideout talked about his excitement after making a diving catch on Sunday.
“Yeah, that was my first. There were a bunch of good balls thrown to me in camp so far but we haven’t connected. I caught a couple, but it was out of bounds or something happened. I like to run deep, run past guys so it is what it is. It’s football. I’m an aggressive guy. I like to get the juices flowing. I like to get the team up so big play let’s make it a big deal.”
LB Christian Kirksey
- Much has been made of the defensive scheme change, but Kirksey doesn’t seem to concerned. Echoing Jackson, Kirksey says the transition will be smooth.
“Once you’ve been playing in a defense for so long, since college ball, defenses are kind of similar. It’s just little tweaks here and there. People coach a little different so they have their different terminologies or things like that, but it’s all pretty much the same. You add your two cents into it. It’s nothing that’s too drastic or too difficult to switch from last year to this year.”
DL John Hughes III
- Desmond Bryant’s season-ending injury has had a profound impact on the battle at defensive line. Hughes is in the midst of the battle, fighting for a spot at defensive end. The fifth year vet seems to be taking a slightly larger leadership role on the defensive line.
“I have all the confidence in [Xavier] Coop[er]. I actually talked to him a little bit after Des got hurt, knowing he had to have a bigger part, but everybody knows that everybody has to raise their game up just because there’s a lot more at stake right now and this team kind of counts on the D line to push forward.”
TE Connor Hamlett
- As Gary Barnidge and Seth DeValve recover from injuries, Hamlett is receiving all of the first-string reps at tight end. The second-year player out of Oregon State is enjoying every minute, trying to establish himself as a “big” player able to stretch the field and create mismatches.
“It’s been great. Just been getting reps any time. Everyone wants to get reps, and I’ve been getting them quite a bit. Just taking advantage of that. (TE) Gary (Barnidge) has been great helping all of us out. When he’s out there, he’s on the field helping us with all the little things that he’s experienced. He’s been a great help. I think everyone’s been stepping up and doing a great job so far.”
WR Jordan Payton
- Hue Jackson and several media members have talked a lot about Payton being behind heading into training camp, since Payton had to finish summer classes in order to graduate. Based on his quotes, Payton will likely catch up quickly.
“I think it’s a process. I definitely just jumped in and started to pick up things with everybody else. Credit to the coaches and to the vet guys and to the other rookies really helping me out and getting along. It’s coming along. It’s a process for sure. That’s what training camp is for, but I’m getting there for sure.”
Tomorrow concludes the Browns’ longest stretch of practices at five days. The club will practice tomorrow afternoon before resting on Wednesday. For a full training camp schedule, click here. Keep it locked here on DBN for more camp coverage tomorrow.