BEREA – It was an offensive day at Cleveland Browns training camp on Monday.
Before things got started, Tyrod Taylor said the Browns “need to win now,” and his offense came out with some urgency ready to prove it’s up to that tall task.
Throughout the practice it didn’t matter whether it was the first, second, or third team units on the field, the Browns offense was fired up and executing at a high level.
Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb and Matt Dayes sparked the big day. They were all fantastic, breaking off long runs seemingly at will. Chubb was as impressive as you’d expect from a second-round draft pick and former star college running back. After he got moving, he didn’t stop. Coaches typically preach to “play until the whistle,” but it didn’t feel like Chubb ever wanted to stop.
Chubb also had the biggest “wow” moment of the day, taking a counter pitch to the left sideline then hitting a video game button juke move to break him free for a huge gain.
It’d be insulting to leave out the receivers, as Corey Coleman and Antonio Callaway both had standout practices. Rookie Derrick Willies also had a good showing. Willies, the 6’4” former Red Raider has an intriguing combination of size and speed. He ran almost exclusively with the second-team offense, led by Baker Mayfield, with fellow rookie Damion Ratley lined up opposite him.
Hue Jackson let his team go a little early on Monday, with Tuesday being a CBA-mandated off-day. The team will return to Berea on Wednesday as they continue to prepare for their preseason opener against the New York Giants on Aug. 8.
Observations from Monday, July 30 practice:
1. Tight end David Njoku continued to drop some passes, one ending in an interception by safety Damarious Randall in 11-on-11s. Tyrod Taylor’s pass sailed a little behind him, and was high, but it did hit his hands. In early goal-line offense simulations Njoku had a spectacular leaping catch in traffic, scoring a touchdown and then delivering an equally impressive jump-and-spike celebration. Njoku has flashed star-level talent at the tight end position, but consistency concerns will continue to be the story following him until they’re not.
2. Maybe some people were writing Corey Coleman off a little too soon. Unable to stay healthy for his first two seasons, Coleman has entered Browns training in what Todd Haley described as a “make or break” season. After struggling early on in camp, Coleman has strung together two impressive practices in a row. Coleman had several impressive grabs on Monday, including one from Taylor along the sideline that garnered a huge pop from fans and teammates. Taylor said he expects Coleman to continue catching his stride and building momentum the further the team progresses into camp.
3. Tyrod Taylor received all first-team quarterback snaps again, and no change is expected there. As such, he had a lot more opportunities for errors, and he did have some on Monday. Other than the slight miss to Njoku on the interception by Randall, Taylor missed Jarvis Landry in the goal-line simulation drill, and also held the ball way too long before sailing a pass over Carlos Hyde’s head in the front corner of the end zone two plays later. Taylor was generally efficient as he has been, too, but the limited goal-line work he put in was far from perfect.
4. Baker Mayfield was sharp again on Monday, but he did hold the ball too long a couple times. He also had some confusion on another play in 11-on-11s resulting in a timeout. One play was a would-be sack if not for defenders stopping before hitting the quarterback, but it ended with him hitting Rashard Higgins down the right sideline for what would have been a touchdown, if not for the sack. Baker also led two-consecutive touchdown plays during the 11-on-11 goal-line simulation. The first, Baker faced quick pressure, rolled left and hit rookie tight end Julian Allen dragging toward the sideline. The second touchdown appeared to be an audible into a run from the shotgun, followed by Chubb dancing across the goal-line. He had another beautiful and well-timed dart to rookie receiver Derrick Willies in non goal-line 11-on-11s.
5. Defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi made the play of the day in defensive line against offensive linemen drills. After the snap, Ogunjobi hit a “crossover-like” NBA move on Joel Bitonio, then shed him and instantly got into the backfield. Chris Smith, a smaller interior guy at 266 pounds, scored a similar victory and was impressive coming from the inside as well.
6. Defensive end Myles Garret looked phenomenal. He appears to be in pristine shape and was dominant in pass-rushing drills. Jeff Risdon from The Browns Wire pointed out how low his shoulder reaches while he’s bending around offensive tackles. It’s pretty remarkable how quickly he’s able to bend, dip, and then explode right into the quarterback, turning speed to power nearly instantly.
7. Rookie offensive lineman Austin Corbett spent his time exclusively at second-team left tackle on Monday. Corbett, the No. 33 pick in last April’s NFL draft, hasn’t settled into a role with the team. Jackson has said they love his versatility, but for now he’ll be plugged in and tried out at different spots until that role crystalizes. Expect Corbett’s future to look less murky after the team increases its game-type simulations, holds intra-squad scrimmage on Friday, and gets into the actual upcoming games.
8. Antonio Callaway had some brief time in with the first-team offense today. He continues catching everything and impresses with his routes.
9. It’s still early but the starting left tackle position doesn’t look close to settled. Shon Coleman looks the part but there doesn’t seem to be belief behind him. That is my perception.
10. Injured receiver/special-teamer Jeff Janis was not in pads, but was active in helping coach and encourage his teammates during special teams drills.
11. Chad Thomas and Jabrill Peppers (PUP) passed their physicals and were activated from the PUP list. Thomas and Peppers were both active at practice.
12. Peppers said he is ready to return, and that he would play against the New York Giants on Aug. 8 if it were up to him. Coach Jackson said following practice that he needs him to get on the field as soon as possible because he isn’t an established veteran and needs the work. Derrick Kindred had a good practice on Monday, including an interception in defensive back drills and a tackle-for-loss of Carlos Hyde.
13. There were no apparent additional injuries on Monday. The following players remained sidelined on Monday: LB Genard Avery (groin), TE Devon Cajuste (concussion), TE Seth DeValve (quad), DL Daniel Ekuale (calf), OL Desmond Harrison (toe-PUP), WR Jeff Janis (knee), DL Lenny Jones (concussion), and OT Greg Robinson (concussion).