On Wednesday, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson and Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown had a pre-training camp press conference with the media for about 25 minutes. DBN’s Mike Hoag has already discussed one of the hot-button topics from that conference — the quarterbacks, where Cody Kessler will open camp No. 1 on the depth chart. Therefore, this recap contains my notes on everything besides the quarterback situation.
1. Injury Updates on Myles Garrett, Corey Coleman: As of this post, we don’t have word yet on which players passed or failed their conditioning tests, so it’s possible some names could begin camp on the Active/PUP list for a couple of days. However, Jackson said that besides rookie CB Howard Wilson, all the players are “healthy and ready to go,” including DE Myles Garrett and WR Corey Coleman.
“[Garrett] was strong enough to leg-press up that friend (laughter). We will definitely monitor him. I think he is totally healthy. Maybe has notdone all the conditioning that you would like to see right before training camp, but I think he is up to speed and ready to go. He is looking forward to it.”
“We are going to monitor Corey [Coleman] and several of our players. ... Part of improving, you have to be out there practicing to improve. We have come up with a really good plan not for just Corey but for several of our guys as we move forward to give them the best opportunity to compete and be a huge part of practice and what we are doing.”
Interesting to me is the fact that John Greco’s name was not brought up as someone who still needs more time, so he might be available at the start of camp after all.
2. Keeping it Vague at the Safety Position: It sounds like the Browns’ top two safeties to begin training camp will be Ed Reynolds and Derrick Kindred. However, it’s a position that will be very fluid based on competition and situational adjustments. Here is what Jackson said on the matter:
“It could be a lot of different people, let me put it to you like that. I say that for this reason: I think when you look at those guys and Gregg (Williams) has so many different packages that he plays in, it is not about a starter. It is not about who walks out there first. It kind of depends on who I put out there on offense first because they are going to match what we do. I think it is unfair to say, ‘Well, this guy is going to be a starter’ and then all of a sudden we are in a different package and you guys start writing and saying, ‘Well, that guy wasn’t out there first.’ I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
3. How Will Peppers be Used? “Every which way I can,” said Jackson. When asked to elaborate on whether he could handle multiple positions, Jackson pointed out that Peppers is very smart and that he “has had some skill on the offensive side of the ball — I do not see any reason why we would stop him from doing something that he may be very good at.” And even though Peppers played a lot of linebacker at Michigan, Jackson thinks he’ll be fine at safety due to what that role will entail in Gregg Williams’ defense:
“In [Williams’] system, we kind of deploy guys in a lot of different areas. [Peppers] will do some of the similar things that he did at Michigan. He will do some new things for us being back there deep and playing in in centerfield. I do not see a real difference for him from a defensive standpoint, at all.”
4. Crowell’s Contract Situation: Last week, we learned that RB Isaiah Crowell has joined Rosenhaus Sports as he prepares for a contract year. Jackson said his feelings on the running back haven’t changed and he’s not going to treat his role differently just because of his contract situation. Besides complimenting RB Duke Johnson, he also singled out “feeling very good” about rookie RB Matthew Dayes, which earns him some early brownie points over RB George Atkinson if you’re looking to grasp at straws during training camp.
5. Team Will Consider Another Veteran WR: This might have just been standard front office speak for any position of need, but when Brown was asked about possibly adding another veteran receiver, he said, “We are going to continue to look,” but also said they are not panicked at the position and a lot of their young guys have taken steps forward. But, he closed with, “Until we are as productive as we want to be – we were far away from that last year – we will continue to try to improve it.”
6. Sashi on Establishing a Mindset: Even though the Browns only won one game last year, they are going full-steam ahead when it comes to setting the tone that they expect to win this year. Here’s what Brown said -- and this is more of a mindset thing than a literal thing:
“The coaching staff did an excellent job at really establishing who we are as Cleveland Browns and what the expectations are. We are not lowering that. We talked about it upstairs – our expectation is to go in and win 20 games this year, and that is exactly what we will tell our guys. That is the expectation they need to have for themselves.”
7. Other Notes:
- Brown was asked if it would be a challenge to cutdown straight from 90 to 53 players this year, as opposed to having the 75-man cutdown in between. He said it would be challenging and can create a logjam since so many players have never been cut at once. I’m sure they have to be thinking about this, but technically they can still have their own self-imposed “first batch of cuts” at some point to help reduce their own logjam.
- Jackson would not give a hint about the right tackle job, other than “it will be a tremendous competition.”
- From last year’s draft class, Brown thinks its important that WR Corey Coleman stays healthy and that he’s “shown some of the explosiveness that caused us to draft him and he wants to do that on a more consistent basis.” He also believes that DE Emmanuel Ogbah will improve upon a good rookie season thanks to the presence of DE Myles Garrett and DE Desmond Bryant.
- Someone asked whether finding a MLB is important, or not important if five defensive backs will be a staple, but Jackson gave a non-answer.
You can read the full press conference transcript here, or watch it there as well.