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Notes from Day 1 of Browns rookie minicamp

Cleveland’s rookie class gets to work.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Rookie Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, rookie minicamp began for the Cleveland Browns as 57 players were on the practice field being coached up by Todd Haley and Gregg Williams, with Hue Jackson overseeing the entire operation for the third year in a row. You can see the list of players who were there in the following posts:

29 rookies, UDFAs, and first-year players
28 players on a tryout basis


1. Baker Mayfield Takes the Reigns: If you’re hoping to see QB Baker Mayfield as the main quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, then savor these next couple of days -- after this, he’ll be taking a back seat to veteran QB Tyrod Taylor. He has the right mindset of wanting to play sooner rather than later, but also understanding the importance of just focusing on getting better through practice:

2. Rain Moves Practice Indoors: Even though all the player interviews took place outside under sunshine and great weather, there was about a 15-minute spell of rain around 3:15 PM, which is right when the first rookie practice was set to begin. That forced practice to be held inside the fieldhouse, which is a bummer because it means the few stock photographs we have from rookie minicamp aren’t outside.

Nonetheless, the media got to take some clips of the warmup drills, including QB Baker Mayfield getting in his first throws in a Browns uniform:

3. Earn Your Stripes: During rookie minicamp, you’ll notice that the helmets don’t have stripes down the middle of them: it’s just all orange, with the team’s Twitter account tagging the photos as “Earn Your Stripes.” What ended up happening is that quite a few fans actually seemed intrigued by the helmets with this type of look — could it be something they have in mind for the 2020 uniform re-design?

4. No. 1 vs. No. 4: OK, I acknowledge this is meaningless, but we take what we can get for headlines in rookie minicamp. During one-on-one drills, tryout WR Tony Morris was matched up against CB Denzel Ward, but the real storyline is QB Baker Mayfield challenging his fellow first-round pick on a deep pass. Chalk this one up as a victory for Mayfield, although Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 the Fan notes that Ward had knocked down a pass from him earlier.

Actually, here is that pass breakup from earlier:

Ward had to sit out the end of practice with a minor tweak of something, but as is often the case this time of year, head coach Hue Jackson said that it was merely precautionary.

5. Grossi With Some Praise? Once in dismay at the selection of QB Baker Mayfield, is it possible that ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi is having a change of heart on him? Here’s something he said about the fast-pace of Friday’s session, crediting much of that to Mayfield’s play:

6. Corbett Begins at Left Tackle: For his first day of rookie minicamp, OL Austin Corbett, the No. 33 overall pick of the draft, lined up at left tackle. After practice, head coach Hue Jackson said they started him off there today, but that they will move him around to help figure out who the best five guys are for the starting offensive line.

Also of note: Jackson specifically called out undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison, saying, “I thought looked very athletic out there at left tackle, too.” Harrison is one of the more notable undrafted free agents that the team signed.

7. It’s Todd Haley’s Playbook: After practice, head coach Hue Jackson was asked about whose offensive playbook the Browns are using (since he has an offensive coordinator). Although he still takes direction from Jackson on certain things he wants to see or do, Jackson said that offensive coordinator Todd Haley “has total autonomy” with it and it is his playbook.

“It is not my playbook (laughter). I have given Todd total autonomy with our offensive football team. He has been very respectful. Anything that I wanted to see or do, he is always asking and we are always communicating that way. You have to do it that way. He can’t go call my offense as more as I couldn’t call his offense. There is a respect level there as I said a long time ago when I hired him. He is one of the best in the business. That is why he is here. He has to do those things his way. He has done a great job. Obviously, for those young guys to come out there – we had too many balls on the ground – but I saw execution, and that was good. We have to continue to get better that way.”

8. Rookie Jersey Numbers: Except for CB Denzel Ward, the rookie draft class have chosen their jersey numbers:

9. Brownies: The Browns signed WR Evan Berry, the brother of Chiefs safety Eric Berry. ... The trade involving TE Randall Telfer and DE Dadi Nicolas was called off, but each team just decided to waive their own player anyway. ... OL Austin Corbett said that his buddy, OL Joel Bitonio, told him he can’t show him favoritism. ... Head coach Hue Jackson said that QB Baker Mayfield received the playbook Thursday night, which is the earliest he was able to receive it per CBA rules. ... Team owner Jimmy Haslam was watching practice. ... Mayfield will be looking for a home in Cleveland soon, but for now, he’s roommates with RB Nick Chubb.

Here is a video recap package of Day 1 of rookie minicamp:

10. Next Up: On Saturday, select players will be available for interviews from 11:45 AM to 12:30 PM. Then, practice will be open to the media again from 3:40 PM to 5:10 PM, and they should be able to get some work in outside. Sunday’s practice session (the final of rookie minicamp) will be closed off to everyone.