The third day of Cleveland Browns training camp was the first “real” practice of the season, because the guys actually wore pads and did some hitting for the first time. You can find our full Day 3 recap here. Let’s check out what Jimmy Haslam, Hue Jackson, David Njoku, Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty had to say today.
- Jackson continues to be grilled about DeShone Kizer’s progress. But he’s not wavering and is standing by his neutral approach, propping each guy up when deserved and applauding their collective ability to minimize turnovers, to this point.
“He did, absolutely. He hit some. (QB) Cody (Kessler) hit some. (QB) Kevin (Hogan) hit some. (QB) Brock (Osweiler) hit some. All of the guys keep responding. What I didn’t like is we have to find a way to not get the ball turned over. We have to make those plays. I have to go back and look at the tape. I thought maybe the ball got tipped or dropped or something, but we have to take care of the ball better, keep making those plays and keep getting guys in the right spots.”
- He commented on the drops that have been prevalent early in training camp.
“Everybody. No kidding. Whether it is drops on defense if there is a tipped ball or drops on offense, we have to possess the ball better. That is one of the keys to a good football team. You do all of the fundamental things well. It is Day 3. We will keep addressing all of those things, but there is enough for us to really put an emphasis on it.”
- Not much of an update on Ed Reynolds’ knee injury.
“I know there is a knee situation there. We will get more reports as we go. It is unfortunate, but we will see what it is and go from there.”
- Some are concerned about rookie TE David Njoku after he was stripped a couple times on Friday, and dropped some passes on Saturday. Luckily, Jackson understands the big picture a bit better than some of the people asking him these questions.
“No, I think he is just trying to work as hard as he can. We have to get through that phase. I have seen this before. There is no question in my mind that he is going to come out the other side of it. He also made a really good play later on in practice so I know it is there. He just has to do it consistently. That is what I’m going to push him to do, and I think he will do it.”
- Here’s how far along TE Seth DeValve has come since last season, in the coach’s words.
“I said this at OTAs – he is an emerging player. I really liked Seth coming out. Last year, I think he would be the first to tell you with all of the injuries and the newness of the National Football League that it was tough. He hung in there and toward the end of the year, played some football and was really hungry to get better and come out his second year and make an impact. He is doing that. He is stronger. He is bigger. He works hard. He studies hard. He wants to make a contribution to our football team.”
- On Jimmy Haslam stating the Browns have the right leaders in place, including at head coach.
“Dee (Haslam) and Jimmy have been really good to me. I appreciate that being said. I have not heard all of that yet. He has been an outstanding support system for me, even in times last year when they were tough. He was somebody I could always turn to and talk to. I think he knows that we are trying to do everything that we can on our side, and I know he is doing everything he can on his side, along with our executive team, led by (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown). It has been a great relationship. We just have to keep growing. Like him, the only thing that I am interested in is trying to get this organization back to winning and giving us the best opportunity to win.”
- Jackson continued to remain patient when asked about quarterbacks. And again had to stress how early in the process we still are when it comes to evaluating his quarterbacks.
“It is too early. It is still Day 3. I need to go watch the tape. There were some plays being made by all three of the guys. I will watch the tape and see if there were some things that we could do better. So far, so good. It has just been three days. We have a lot of practices ahead of us. We are just going to keep growing.”
- Oh look, the windy Berea, Ohio weather prompted a kicker question. Both Zane Gonzalez and Cody Parkey appeared to struggle with the windy on Saturday.
“Just get the ball in the upright (laughter). Too many times it is going on the other side. That kind of puts a little damper on everything. I know those guys are working hard, but we do have to play the elements. We play in the elements. We are going to deal with that wind and all of that down at our stadium, and that is what I said to them. We have some work to do there.”
- The question of Jason McCourty’s position remains a hot topic for beat writers covering the team. Jackson continued to keep us guessing by leaving that possibility open.
“No, I think everything is still fluid. We are still working through it about where guys are going to play and how they are going to play. It is just three days, and as you know (defensive coordinator) Coach (Gregg) Williams has so many different packages so we will see where these guys all fit when the time comes.”
Haslam has been quiet lately, but he opened up to media on Saturday about his opinion of the state of the franchise, and his expectations for 2017 and beyond.
“Paul’s description of taking the house down to the studs is, I think, accurate,” Haslam said.It’s also clear the roster is better than it was a year ago — and it should be considering the franchise had a historic amount of salary-cap space and drafted 10 players this offseason — but it still needs significant upgrades before it contend for a playoff spot. The team has traded down in the first round in each of the past two drafts, stockpiling two picks in the first round and three in the second in 2018.”
- He continued to lament the struggles of the franchise, but said he expects much better in the not-so-distant future.
“Last year was harder than we thought, OK None of us are exactly sure what’ll happen this year. I know we’ll be a better team. So I think 2018 — and I’m not hedging my bets — 2018, 2019, you should see a substantially better football team.”
- Tell us something we don’t know, Mr. Haslam? Maybe stick to the plan this time, because it looks like there actually is one, sir.
“I’m am extremely impatient person,” Haslam said. “But I think we’ve learned the hard way if you want to do this and do it right, building through the draft and being patient and getting the right people in place is the right way to do it. So it’s hard, but it’s unequivocally the right thing to do.”
The rookie tight end has taken a lot of heat lately for some early ball security issues. Let’s see how handled the brief questions he fielded on Saturday. As he demonstrates below, brevity is usually best when being hammered this early in a career.
- His overall feel for the first two days of training camp.
“They went OK. A couple of ups and downs. Just have to keep working every day.”
- He talked about Hue Jackson’s comments stressing the importance of ball security.
“He is right. Obviously, they chose me in the first round for a reason. It was to make plays. I just have to work that much harder in this practice this afternoon. I have to hang onto it after every catch. You have a day like this where it is lack of focus or whatever it is, but you have to bounce back as best as possible and have a better practice the next day.”
- What’s his concern level at right now, after just two official training camp practices under his belt?
“Concern? No, I am not concerned. I am just going to work that much harder at holding onto the ball after every catch and tuck it.”
- Does he think coaches been riding him more because he was a first round pick?
“I don’t really know. I don’t really think about that. I just think about what I have to do to be a better player every day. Obviously, yesterday wasn’t my best performance. That is why today I am trying to work harder on bettering myself.”
- For some reason, the first question McCourty was asked was about how Gregg Williams handles the first day of padded practice in comparison to coaches he’s had in the past.
“No, I do not think so. I think every coach in this league loves contact and loves to see guys get after it. Gregg is definitely no different in that department. You will see guys out there with a purpose. It is going to be a physical day. The offense, everybody is excited. It is the first day of pads. We know that in order to win football games. We have to be physical.”
- How does he see the youth of the secondary he’s playing with this season?
“It has been exciting to watch them. When you are young, everything is kind of a new experience. Seeing them now in camp, today will be a different experience for them now with pads on. Just seeing how much they are picking up from the spring until now, not making the same mistakes, asking a ton of questions in the meeting room or in our downtime. it is always fun to watch the young guys come along.”
- He was asked about defensive back Briean-Boddy Calhoun, specifically.
“He is fun to be around. You can feel his energy and you can see how much he loves to be out here playing football. For an older guy, that is fun to be a young guy who is just trying to soak everything up, soak all the knowledge up. He is playing inside, and he is playing outside. He has a lot of instincts. The ball goes up in the air, and he kind of knows where to be. He is always in the right spot. He has been a fun guy to be around so far in my stay here.”
- Someone wanted to know how well he knew Joe Haden before joining the Browns.
“I did not really know him, at all. Obviously, playing against him throughout the years, just saying what’s up before games or after games but not a real personal relationship. As a veteran in this league, you have a ton of respect for the guys you watch on film that you see making plays game in and game out. Being here, getting a chance to be around him after years of watching him play extremely well on the outside and matching up against team’s number one receivers and making plays week in and week out, it has been fun to be around.”
- Media members are infatuated this season with the idea that a player is capable of playing more than one position. They asked McCourty how he sees that possibility, especially because his name is floated most often as someone who might be switching.
“For us, it is learning too. We do not always know what the package is that is going in. Like you said, we have done some things already early in camp where guys line up at different positions. For Gregg, he puts that onus on us. He challenges us to learn things, and now be able to go out onto the field and execute it and play well at it. He will judge off of what we look like on film in different positions. That will dictate what packages he uses and what defenses he uses. For us, it is a challenge. When he says, ‘Hey, we are going to run this package,’ and you are lined up at free safety, that is a challenge for you to make sure you know what you are doing and you go out there and you excel at it. That is only going to create more opportunity to be out on the field.”
Before being involved in a skirmish in practice, Danny Shelton answered some media questions.
- Shelton was asked to quantify Gregg Williams’ impact on practices.
“Coach Williams did a great job of getting into our minds and changing our mentality, making us think aggressive, think gritty, think nasty and just thinking like a dominant defense. That is what really helped me out as a player, and I can see it in the rest of the D line as far as our effort and as far as how we are working and competing against each other.”
- How does Shelton see his role changing in a 4-3 defense?
“I guess it just gives me more opportunities to make plays. That is what I see it as. That is what is exciting to me is that I get to play this position and have a role where I get to get off and get knock backs. I don’t have to worry about everything else.”
- The Browns front-seven looks like a pretty solid group. How does the third-year nose tackle see them developing this year?
“I see a lot of great things, great potential for our D line group. We are a young group. We are a physically big group. I love it because that brings up the competition. We have guys that are super fast with their get-offs. We have guys that are super powerful. It is non-stop competing for us, and that is what I love about my group. We have guys like (DL) Trevon Coley, who hasn’t really had an opportunity yet to get his name out there, but he has been probably one of the most productive D linemen since OTAs. We have (DL) Larry (Ogunjobi), a guy who is just physically talented. We just have a lot of great guys who are going to push each other.”