The fourth day of Cleveland Browns training camp concluded on Sunday, and you can find our full Day 4 recap here. We also heard from defensive line coach Clyde Simmons and offensive line coach Bob Wylie. Let’s check out what Hue Jackson, Kenny Britt, Joel Bitonio, Kevin Zeitler, and Emmanuel Ogbah had to say on Sunday.
- Because LT Joe Thomas is getting so many days off, we’re seeing a lot of OL Shon Coleman at left tackle instead of right tackle. Jackson doesn’t think that will hurt his chances of being the starting right tackle, though:
“He is getting enough [reps at right tackle]. Yes, he is. He can play. He has done a good job, him and (OL) Cam (Erving) both. Those guys have done a really good job, and we have to find out if one of those guys can play left tackle for the future, too. I think they both have demonstrated that they can do it, and right now, I feel good about them both.”
- One of the players who has been talked up early in camp is RB Matthew Dayes, and it could be a reason why RB George Atkinson was already shown the door. A reporter asked if Jackson likes the fact that Dayes has a chip on his shoulder for being drafted so late:
“I like that. He has a chip on his shoulder. I don’t [feed into that]. I think the kid does. I think he is disappointed in that way that he didn’t get picked earlier, but he is demonstrating out here on the field the talent that he has. He has had a great camp so far.”
- Staying on the topic of running backs, several questions were asked about RB Duke Johnson’s versatility and time with the wide receiver group.
“[Duke] is doing sensationally. We ask a lot of Duke. Duke is doing a lot of things for us. He is a terrific football player. Glad he is a part of our organization and team. He is very valuable to what we do. ... He can catch out of the backfield. He runs the ball. We line him up in different places where we can get an advantage with him. He is a weapon for us. We are just trying to use him as much as we can, and we do. He has to bounce around to a lot of different rooms. That is why I said we ask a lot of him. He has responded well.”
- As we noted in our Day 4 recap, the Browns did some red zone, two-minute, and goal line drills. Jackson was asked about whether he was pleased with the touchdown throws during the red zone portion of drills:
“Some. We left some others out there. We have to learn to use everybody’s length. A couple of throws (QB) DeShone (Kizer) had, he could have used the guy’s size to his advantage. That is a learning thing, which is a good thing to find out so guys understand that they have to play big that way. .... Having the live periods is really good for our football team right now because we see where we are. We see where we are as coaches, we see where we are as players and we know where we need to get to.”
- One reporter asked if QB Cody Kessler held on to the ball too long when he took three sacks during one of the team periods. Jackson said that he’d need to watch the tape before making that conclusion, but that it was probably a combination of everything that they have to get better at. QB Brock Osweiler had some success during the goal line period with three straight touchdown passes, and Jackson was asked if his experience played a factor in that.
“No, I do not think so. He just made the plays that were there. I think Cody made some plays that were there. DeShone (Kizer) did, too, and Kevin (Hogan) did, too. We just have got to make those plays consistently. That is an element that we did not have a year ago. We just got to make them when they are there because they will be there. When they are there, you have to make them. They go away really quickly. If you do not hit it when it is there, then it closes up really fast.”
- Lastly, for some training camp insight, Jackson said that he doesn’t always stick to the script on offense against Gregg Williams:
“[I improvise] quite a bit. I just have paper in my hand. That doesn’t mean that is what is getting called off that script. When you go against Gregg, things change very quickly. Today, there was a different style of defense. There was a Bear package that was in today. A lot different. You can’t run the ball against that so there are certain things that we do, not that we can’t, there are just certain other things you need to do to have success when you face that kind of defense.”
- Hopefully not following in the path of WR Dwayne Bowe when it comes to training camp quotes, Britt said that rookie QB DeShone Kizer “could be one of the great ones.”
- It’s surprising that Britt said he’s never been part of a team that has had live tackling drills in training camp. But maybe that’s related to what one of his former head coaches (Jeff Fisher) instituted with the Titans and Rams.
“No, not at all, [I’ve never been part of live tackling in camp]. It was a little different. It was kind of fun to tell you the truth. Some coaches believe that going live and [potentially] getting injuries that it is silly this early in the season. It is actually good for the defense. Those guys have to learn how to tackle. The only way to learn how to tackle is going out there and tackle somebody. The ball carrier has to run through some things. You really can’t get your pass rush and pass blocking game down without putting the pads on and hitting each other.”
- Coming off of a Lisfranc injury, Bitonio talked about his recovery time. He also noted that in OTAs, he was told he could do some individual drills during minicamp, which encouraged him to believe he was ahead of schedule and would be a full-go by the start of training camp.
“It was hard. I was in a boot for 12 weeks or something like that. It was really a mental strain just as much as a physical strain. You couldn’t do as much as you wanted. The trainers did a good job of telling me, ‘Hey, it takes time. This first part you are not going to do too much, but once you get back, it is just about getting those movements back.’ We really worked at it, and I am just thankful I’m back out there now.”
- Besides pass protecting a quarterback, the offensive line sometimes gets to see the growth of a running back, and Bitonio described the improvements he’s seen in RB Isaiah Crowell:
“[Crowell] was here my rookie year, as well. We were both rookies together. He had good runs that year. He was a good player, but I think his vision and his poise have all improved. He has always had that patience to make the cut, but he is really just getting better and better. He had a few cuts in that period yesterday where he really saw some of the defense and they were over-pursuing a little bit, and he cut backdoor and had a few big runs. He is a good guy, so quiet but he just comes out and works every day. The other thing I have seen is he has really transformed his body. He has kind of leaned up a little bit, but he is running hard and is really committed to our team this year.”
- Zeitler is the new kid on the block, coming over from Cincinnati. It’ll probably take a bit more time for him to give some more interesting answers. He did talk about the legend of LT Joe Thomas at Wisconsin, as that’s where Zeitler also went:
“Everyone knows about Joe Thomas at Wisconsin. Before I got there, I knew about him, how he was such a great player right away and everyone wants to be the next Joe Thomas so a lot of people are striving to be that.”
- Earlier in the day, defensive line coach Clyde Simmons mentioned that Ogbah needs to be more physical than last year to play the left defensive end position. Ogbah commented on that, as well as what he’s tried to work on this offseason:
“It means a lot [to be physical at left defensive end] because the offense runs to our left a lot of times. They depend on me to set the edge so that the offense doesn’t run around me. I have to be more physical with the tight end and the offensive tackle. ... [To help me be more physical], the weight room and also that mentality that you are the key. You have to stop everything from coming your way. That is my main goal.”
- Ogbah also said that he’s focused on improving his pass rush during training camp. He also appreciates Simmons' impact on the defensive line group.
“He is a players’ coach. He is very knowledgeable. He has 130-some sacks in his career. A guy like that, you look up to. You want to get like that. He helps us out a lot. He gives us the keys to stop offensive linemen and get past offensive linemen. A guy like that is a great addition for us.”