I was live in Berea on Day 5 of Cleveland Browns training camp for my annual visit. Our full practice report summary is below, and will be a combination of my observations and a summary of media reports.
Cleveland Browns Training Camp Report - Day 5 (7/30/18)
1. Great Weather Again: Last year was a memorable training camp experience for two reasons: (1) I absolutely loved the new bleachers that were added for fans, and (2) the weather was cloudy and cool the entire time.
The bleachers are a regular fixture now each year, but the weather is always hit-or-miss, especially when you plan your dates in advance. Fortunately, for the second year in a row, I just happened to stumble into a cloudy day of practice, which was especially helpful since I had already gotten plenty of some from outdoor basketball on Saturday and then bike riding on Sunday.
In the photo above, you can see the type of weather I am referring to. Rain chances were about 15-20%, but nothing came down. The Brownie logo was indeed prominent, right from the entrance. In the bottom right corner of the picture, you can also see a glimpse of the NFL Films disclaimer (due to HBO’s Hark Knocks). Speaking of Hard Knocks, while I did see them filming, they were not nearly as visible as I expected them to be, based on what everyone else had been reporting.
2. Annual Schedule Poster & Freebies: I’m sure there are other places to get them, but I always rely on my visit to training camp as the place I can pick up a poster schedule — it makes for a great decoration for home or the office. This year’s schedule also features Brownie as opposed to any one player:
They also handed out some other freebies: Browns-colored sunglasses and an orange resistance band. My brother and I attend camp together; practice was set to start at 2:35 PM and end at 5:30 PM. We arrived at about 2:15 PM, and thankfully, practice was set to be held on the Field 2, which is the one closest to the largest set of bleachers.
Another win for our camp experience. I prefer sitting in the very top row of the bleachers; so I surveyed the crowd and spotted an opening near the 45-yard line. Below is a panoramic view of all the action; you can also see the black pole in the way. At the top of that is the camera that replaces those huge, obtrusive orange lifts this year.
3. Mysterious Drone Hovering Over Camp: Part-way during camp, we could hear a buzzing behind us. I turned around and a big drone was hovering over the fan area. I captured a video of it as it flew around a bit.
I hope this is the team's drone. Hovering over practice. pic.twitter.com/iknn7SkvGB— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) July 30, 2018
The drone appeared again later on for about 10 minutes, but then disappeared by the church outside the gates. Maybe it isn’t a team drone? I joked — but then a few users later mentioned that they believe it is aerial footage being obtained for HBO’s Hard Knocks. I guess they were visible after all!
4. Drills of the Day: As you may have read the past few days, we’re trying to highlight select drills each day as part of the fun. Our first couple of drills focus on tackling: one where players drive and wrap up the tackle dummy, and another where the defenders dive underneath to cut out a player’s legs.
Defenders working on tackling drills earlier. pic.twitter.com/0ww5VLPxso— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) July 31, 2018
Another drill saw defenders practicing their patience to ensure they were didn’t jump offsides as the coach was barking commands. The clip below is only three seconds, but usually the coach was barking out things for about 10-15 seconds before moving the ball.
Another drill: players needing to watch the ball and react quickly when it's snapped. Basically trying to prevent offsides or encroachment. pic.twitter.com/LQa7lTouVK— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) July 31, 2018
One drill I didn’t get a video of (because it was too far away) involved offensive linemen. A medicine ball was being used to appear to simulate punching an inside rusher at the last second after initially dropping into a stance for an outside rusher. Update: Fred Greetham of The OBR got video of it!
Lastly, in a distance, we could see all of the quarterbacks trying to hit discs that were being tossed in the air. They weren’t very successful at doing so, but I wouldn’t expect them to be. These aren’t clay pigeons after all.
5. Goal Line Work: The first 11-on-11 drills of the day involved goal line drills. There wasn’t a lot of success from the offense in these drills until TE David Njoku caught a touchdown pass from QB Tyrod Taylor, which then prompted the touchdown spike. I had to chuckle a bit after the spike, because I just kept thinking of his four dropped passes from a year ago (but at the same time, I never want to discourage a player from celebrating — it was just a little amusing).
Per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, here were the other personnel involved in big plays down near the goal line; TE Seth DeValve being out (quad) helped open the door for TE Julian Allen to see more work.
In goal line drill, TE David Njoku nice TD catch from QB Tyrod Taylor. QB Baker Mayfield showed patience, worked progressions and threw TD to TE Julian Allen. CB Simeon Thomas broke up a Drew Stanton pass in end zone. #Browns— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) July 30, 2018
6. Duke Johnson Draws Approval of Fans: We’ve heard a lot about him at receiver this camp, but the crispest running back of the day was Duke Johnson, although the offensive line deserves props here for hitting all their blocks.
The big run prompted a “Dukkkkkkkeee” chant as the play ended. Johnson had another big run later on in practice, as did RB Nick Chubb. I didn’t see much of RB Carlos Hyde except when he lost a handoff after defensive pressure blew up the play before he could really even gather the ball.
7. Coleman Getting Some of That Confidence: I know there is a lot more potential to WR Corey Coleman’s game, but the past two days of practice are the type of player I saw last year against the Jaguars (when I felt he had a solid outing against a great secondary). He is consistently matching up against CB T.J. Carrie in camp, and here is an out route for about 20 yards that led to the crowd chanting “Corey Coleman...”
This was the play that got the crowd going for Corey Coleman. pic.twitter.com/o7mijAFlln— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) July 30, 2018
8. QB Performances: Overall, I would call it a pedestrian day for all the quarterbacks. Nothing bad. Nothing great. They were rather indistinguishable from each other; and the gameplan seemed to call for very few downfield plays in practice.
One of the areas that QB Tyrod Taylor scuffled in for a stretch were shallow dumpoff passes over the middle when he was trying to get the ball just over the hands of the defenders at the line. There were two plays that came in too high. On the first, it went off TE David Njoku’s hands, leading to an interception for FS Damarious Randall and a good runback. Later on, Taylor’s pass was off another receiver’s hands, but this time it accidentally fell into the lap of Njoku a few yards further downfield.
9. Bring it Back: There was a big play later in practice between QB Baker Mayfield and WR Rashard Higgins that went for about 40 yards. Distance-wise, it was the longest play of the day. However, I didn’t count it because LB B.J. Bello would have had the sack, but pulled up to (obviously) avoid hitting his quarterback in training camp. CB Denzel Rice and/or S Elijah Campbell got caught up in the backfield, though, allowing Higgins to slip free.
10. Myles Garrett Disrupting Plays: The first four days of training camp, I hadn’t heard much about DE Myles Garrett (he had one day off, but you may recall, last year, there were multiple reports each day about him beating OT Rod Johnson). On Monday, he was disrupting the backfield left and right, giving the team’s left tackles some issues, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports points out:
Browns offensive tackles getting undressed in one-on-one drills. And, yeah, Myles Garrett is taking part today. Several cries of "Ole, Ole!" from the defensive players after easily navigating around and through the tackles#JoeThomasAintWalkinThruThatDoor— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 30, 2018
11. Camp Chatter: Every year at training camp, one of the fun features I try to include is called “Camp Chatter,” where I point out things I hear from the fans. There was a good crowd on Monday, but I thought it was a very sedate crowd overall (which is fine by me). Nonetheless, here are a few things we picked up (and forgive us if this was you — it’s all in good fun!):
- The guy to my left had binoculars and was really trying to find out where team owner Jimmy Haslam was for awhile. “Where the heck is Haslam?”
- “Out of the three quarterbacks, #9 is the tallest.”
- The guys to our right were pointing out how the Hard Knocks camera crews were running around any time someone caught a pass in a certain area.
- “Tyrod Taylor sucks at the disc skeet drill.”
- “You see #23? That’s Demarious Randall. He’s going to be our safety this year,” said a father to his little girl, happily listening to anything he said.
- “I never saw Hue Jackson moving around at all in camp, and now he keeps moving around going to every drill. He must be hamming it up for the Hard Knocks cameras.”
12. The 40-Yard Dash, Crushed: Last year, after practice was over, I could only take a picture at the 40-yard dash (for fans) in Berea, because it was already turned off for the day. Practice ended about an hour early on Monday, so I had some time to look around at the fan activities. When the crowd died down at the 40-yard dash, I decided, “you know what, I will give it a go.”
I’ve never timed myself, but I know I’m a fast runner and can run a 4.something. I had my brother set to video record it. I wasn’t sure how my shoes would run on the grass, but it seemed OK. As I approached the attendant, he said, “you’re the last one today” (before he tears it down).
I started running...and it felt great. As I got half-way down the lane, I started looking up, and OH GOD, there is like a two-year old walking on to the track in front of me. This was about 3⁄4 of the way down the path when the clock read 3.47, and by the time I finished, the clock was about 5.17. Dammit! I freaking know at a minimum, I would’ve had a 4.70, but I wanted to see just how fast I could get. I looked at the replay, that one side-step was subtle, but it kills the whole timing. AGH! Maybe next year.
13. Other Shots: Here are some of the other new fan photo opportunities at training camp this year. First up we have the four life-size bobbleheads; and to give a size comparison, I also have a picture of me next to the Joe Thomas bobblehead (I am 5-11).
And then here are some large receiving gloves and a stand with some measurables pointed out for some of the team’s most physical freaks of nature.
14. Brownies: DT Larry Ogunjobi saw some work with the first-team defense. ... LB Genard Avery missed practice with a groin injury, and WR Jeff Janis sat with a knee injury. ... DE Chad Thomas and SS Jabrill Peppers each passed their physicals and were activated from the PUP list. ... QB Bernie Kosar and QB Tim Couch were talking it up at practice. ... See Mike Hoag’s practice report here.
15. Next Up: The Browns are off on Tuesday since they have practiced five days in a row. Head coach Hue Jackson said there there is no curfew Monday night for players, but he expected the players to be smart. Practice continues Wednesday in Berea, from 3:00 PM to 5:55 PM.