I was live in Berea on Day 5 of Cleveland Browns training camp for my annual visit. My 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 (7/29/19)
1. Setting the Scene: For the past two years, I got lucky at training camp because the weather was cloudy the entire time, shielding me from the burning sun as I relaxed in the bleachers at training camp. This year, practices have mostly been moved to the morning, which helped make the temperature not too bad. However, as you can see below, the sun was out bright and early:
Practice was taking place on Field 3, which is the first field as soon as you enter. As you can see in the picture below, there would have been some bleacher seats available had I gone straight there (it was about 9:20 AM, and practice begins at 10:00 AM).
However, over the years, it’s become less important for me to keep my eyes glued to practice and profusely try to write down each play I see. Most of the big plays are captured on Twitter anyway, and I just end up liking the “training camp experience” for a day. Relaxing on a day off from work, taking in the excitement of Browns fans, listening to camp chatter, and seeing how the team practices in a more casual manner.
2. Annual Schedule Poster & Freebies: As I started saying earlier, instead of heading to the bleachers right away, one of my goals every year at training camp is to go around and collect a few free essentials, including the poster schedule for that season (one gets hung up in my office, and the other gets hung up at home).
This year’s poster schedule features QB Baker Mayfield, shifting away from the dominant “Brownie the Elf” theme that covered everything at camp last year. I also got a pair of Browns-themed sunglasses, a Browns schedule magnet, and a free ice cold water bottle. Only one puppy remained at the Puppy Pound, so I assume that several had already been adopted in the short time since practice had opened.
My brother and I were ready to find a spot to camp out and watch practice. The area near the fence was covered in shade, and we picked a spot where not as many fans were standing. We had a good, comfortable view of practice. Unfortunately, later on when team drills started, the rest of the players on the team were behind the action, blocking our view (you would have been able to see it from the bleachers). That’s ok — no biggie.
3. Rosenhaus Shows Up Again: I didn’t realize it at the time, but agent Drew Rosenhaus was standing not too far away from me, talking to Alonzo Highsmith, presumably about his client, RB Duke Johnson. Johnson was idle at practice again as he deals with a hamstring injury.
4. Drill of the Day: Per Jake Burns of Cleveland.com, the Browns implemented a “scamble drill,” using orange bags to run around. Each player has a different role in the scramble depending on where they start off, and it’s one of the reasons that QB Baker Mayfield was upset the other day — that players didn’t run it properly.
Just 2 days ago during 11on11 Mayfield snapped at his WRs for failing to work the “scramble drill.”— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) July 29, 2019
Here it is in application during indy period w RBs & WRs.
QB feels pressure, escapes, and WRs adjust. If shallow, turn upfield to roll side. Deep, come back at an angle. #Browns pic.twitter.com/9S6ckVojaq
5. Beckham’s Practice Limited: With me seeing how certain veterans have been held out of team drills for routine rest, I had the old “Butch Davis gut feeling” that Odell Beckham Jr. would be held out right when it was time for me to watch practice. Sure enough, that was the case. He did do some individual work, though, and made this fan happy. RB Nick Chubb also made a fan happy by giving them a ball for their ninth birthday.
Odell catches and gives the ball to a kid. pic.twitter.com/rMzNCFL9AM— Dan Labbe (@dan_labbe) July 29, 2019
6. Tight End Running to the Restroom: During one part of practice, the quarterbacks were throwing to the tight ends in the red zone (a team helper would serve as the ‘body’ of the defender). Then, all of a sudden, I saw TE Pharoah Brown jogging toward the fans.
I thought he was going to shake someone’s hand or something, but instead, he put his helmet down and stepped over the ropes, and jogged straight into the RV-sized bathroom that fans were using. About a minute later, he exited and jogged back onto the field. That was a training camp first for me! Imagine if you were in the bathroom at the time, and then this 6-7 guy in football pads comes in.
7. The Jet Sweep: Every play or wrinkle of a play serves a purpose, sometimes to set something up for later. Here is a fake jet sweep to WR Jarvis Landry, but the play still goes to RB Nick Chubb. However, a bit later, the jet sweep is successful with WR Antonio Callaway for a score. This is an example of a play I couldn’t see from where I was at, since the players were standing on the field and I was in the opposite end zone.
8. Rough Day Catching: In general, it didn’t seem like the best day for receivers hanging onto the football, but the most memorable negative stretch came for WR Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. He did a great job of smoking CB Greedy Williams on the go route up the sideline, but then he dropped the pass. He was targeted again on a crossing route a play or two later, and dropped that one too.
A couple of tight ends had their miscues too. TE David Njoku allowed a ball to be poked away by MLB Joe Schobert. And, to end practice, TE Seth DeValve couldn’t haul in this high pass, and took a bit of a hit that forced him to lay down a little and then talk to an athletic trainer as he walked off.
Seth DeValve getting looked at after this hit. pic.twitter.com/qXlV3ZeZwk— Dan Labbe (@dan_labbe) July 29, 2019
9. Camp Chatter, Part 1: 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. Here are some of the things I heard:
- There was a Kansas City Chiefs fan nearby, and she even had a Chiefs lunch bag. She was talking about Kareem Hunt being on the Chiefs last year and now the Browns, and a little about the Tyreek Hill situation in Kansas City.
- “That’s the Scottish guy,” said a few fans when P Jamie Gillan was ready to punt. One of his sky-high punts drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
- “Did Beckham get rid of his blonde hair?”
- Some guy was bragging about his luxurious property and inviting friends or relatives to come by, and he made a joke that they can piss in the yard, piss on the deck, “just don’t miss in the pool.”
- “Are you getting him, honey?” said a woman, and then a guy said, “I’m getting him right here,” as he was filming QB Baker Mayfield on his phone.
- An Asian couple was standing next to us for a brief time. They were talking to each other in their language, and when the first punt was boomed off, they seemed a little confused at first. When they saw the second one, one of them said, “Oh, special teams, special teams!”
- Someone was eating a blueberry yogurt they had brought in (that was actually my brother, standing right next to me).
10. Camp Chatter, Part 2: I always get a kick out of seeing some of the media personalities up close. What can I say, I’m a bit weird — it’s my once-a-year moment to laugh at the fact that I’m seeing Tony Grossi up close, or someone from 92.3 the Fan. This year, it was Adam the Bull who was walking by:
So, @AdamtheBullFAN was nice enough to talk quickly to the tall guy after practice about #Browns. As soon as Bull leaves, the fan starts telling everyone near him, "He's just a baseball guy, not football...and I'm not calling anyone The Bull." #CampChatter @DustinFox37 pic.twitter.com/M5xPiEQDDc— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) July 29, 2019
Just before that, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland had walked by. A fan yelled out “8 wins” to him, to which Grossi seemed to laugh at. The same fan mentioned it to Mary Kay Cabot about a minute later — she stopped and had a bit more of a dialogue before continuing on.
After practice, a fan yells "at least 8 wins!" to Tony Grossi. Grossi's response is to laugh as if he's spitting up water at the absurdity of it. pic.twitter.com/rDD9tCrLAt— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) July 29, 2019
11. 40-Yard Dash: Those of you who follow the blog every year may remember me writing last year about my 40-yard dash dream being crushed after a kid ran into my lane. I thought about running it this year, but there was a line of all little kids when I went over there early in practice. Last year, I ran it right before the line closed, and all the kids had left or were busy getting autographs. I didn’t end up doing it this year.
12. Brownies: LB Sione Takitaki and LB Mack Wilson laid some hits in running drills. ... RB Nick Chubb moves so crisp with his cuts. ... CB Terrance Mitchell seemed to be getting beat by receivers often in 7-on-7 drills. ... QB Baker Mayfield was fired up and not afraid to take command and direct teammates. ... A total of 39 puppies have been adopted at the Browns Puppy Pound at training camp this year. ... Sadly, after practice, the convenient store that I always buy my annual bag of pretzel rods from were not selling them, but I did get my $0.35 ice cream bar, and saw a picture of Mayfield on the wall in there, framed, from when he had been in the store.
13. Next Up: The Browns have their first off day on Tuesday. They will resume practice on Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.