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Cleveland Browns Training Camp report

Its all in preparation for the first game of the regular season when the Cleveland Browns will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.
Its all in preparation for the first game of the regular season when the Cleveland Browns will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.Cleveland Browns

Day 12 of the Browns Training Camp is now in the books with the team running no-huddle offense at practice as the team preps for their Monday night August 18 8:00 p.m. meeting with Washington. This is a critical game for all the players in camp as the ninety member roster will be cut to 75 then cut further to 53 by the start of the season. This is the second to last open to the public practice (the team has an off day on Thursday, August 14 and full practice on Friday).

Here is what Coach Pettine and some players had to say about today.

Head Coach Mike Pettine

On running the no-huddle at practice:
“Yeah, it’s something that we want to incorporate offensively at some point. It’s always good to be able to change your tempo, sometimes by necessity if you’re down. It’s not necessarily a true 2-minute when you get behind and you just want to kind of change the tempo up a little bit. It’s really the future of the league, so I think defensively we can’t see enough of that. That was a situation in Buffalo last year we were up-tempo all the time. Our guys got real used to it, so we weren’t real fazed by it when we saw it during the regular season. I think that’s something you’ll see more of. We’ll work on that more repetitions in future practices, especially leading up to the opener. I know Pittsburgh, there’s talk of it. They ran some up-tempo last year. I think they liked it and they’re going to increase it some more. I think it’s a league-wide trend, so it’s something we certainly need to be prepared for.”

On if he thinks QB Johnny Manziel is ready to handle the no-huddle offense:
“Yeah, today was the first set of doing it. We were pretty basic offensively with the volume that we had no-huddle, but I think it’s to any quarterback’s advantage to be able to get up on the ball quick and force a defense to not be able to substitute and maybe be a little bit more vanilla with their calls or more worried about getting lined up then getting in advance detail. You see some teams that play well when they have that time to reset in between, and then I think you just need that in your arsenal to kind of unnerve a team, the ability to go no-huddle.”

On if DL Calvin Barnett faked an injury while the offense was running no-huddle at practice:
“No comment. I know that’s a point of emphasis with the league, and that’s something that you’ve seen at times get pointed out on tape. It’s something that I know defenses have done to try to slow it down, but I think that was a legitimate injury. I think he cramped up.”

On if offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense is capable of running no-huddle when the play calls are so long:
“They weren’t lengthy in the no-huddle. They get shortened down to, I think, it’s a number and a word. They can get the guys lined up and then they have code words. I think they help with the snap count. I think you can’t do your whole offense that way, but I think in a given game plan you can pick a certain number of plays and go ahead and code-word them or number them and be able to run the no-huddle efficiently.”

On if the playbook is too complicated to narrow play calls down:
“Yeah, I think it’s just too much. It’s just pure memorization. You look at – have you ever seen an offensive coordinator’s call sheet? That looks like somebody tried to right the Manhattan white pages out on one piece of paper. If a game plan is – it can be voluminous – but I think you can get your core concepts if you can get them all into…you can tweak it. You can probably tag it or give your code word then maybe put a tag word on it to give it some variation if you have to. There are ways to get it down.”

On stories on NFL Network reporting that the Browns are trying to trade QB Brian Hoyer to the Texans:
“‘Stories’ is a good word to apply to that.”

On if there is absolutely nothing to that NFL Network report:
“We’re not going to comment on every story that’s out there. We made a move to strengthen our quarterback room, and you just get these stories coming out. I don’t want to be in the habit of commenting on all of them. I really addressed that situation yesterday.”

On if QB Rex Grossman stepped right in with his knowledge of the offense:
“Yeah, he did. He went in the meeting room and they have all the installations up on the board and I think he processed it pretty quickly. There were a couple of minor tweaks to it, but it’s all stuff that he’s run before that he’s comfortable with.”

On how WR Travis Benjamin’s knee is progressing and what kind of role he sees him playing on the team:
“I think he’s progressing well, and it took some time. It did. I think it helped him when we gave him some days off here and there, and we’ll continue with that until we feel that he’s back up to 100 percent. I think that’s critical. It’s hard to have a roster spot just for a guy and all he does is return. He has to be able to function on one side of the ball or the other, the same thing with (Browns DB Johnson) Bademosi on defense. He’s a core (special) teamer, but he has to be able to function at safety at times, whether it’s in a package or as a true back-up. It’s the same way on the offense with Travis. I think that’s what you can have him be your third or your fourth. I think that’s nothing but a positive thing.”

On if he is worried about being able to stretch the field if WR Josh Gordon is unable to play during the season and Benjamin being able to do that:
“Yeah and I think in Kyle’s offense over the years that he’s had that guy, too, that can kind of take the roof off. I think that’s important. I’d agree with you there. That’s an accurate statement.”

On if it’s a concern that a lot of passes have been hitting the ground at this point in camp:
“No it’s not a concern. It’s just you get into kind of the heat of camp, and you’ve just got to push guys through it. They’ve got to focus. They’ve got to make sure they’re looking balls in. I know the one day was the wet day or it was the first time we were trying to handle wet or heavier footballs. I’m not concerned about it.”

On if there are any new plans on the quarterback rotation during Monday’s preseason game against the Redskins:
“No, at least you didn’t preface this question by saying, ‘I have to ask this.’ You don’t have to ask anything (laughs). We’ll have that information. Nothing has changed. We’re going to go ahead and meet tomorrow and discuss all positions, but the quarterback one especially tomorrow.”

On if he has a sense of how long the starters will play against the Redskins:
“It will be in the neighborhood of a half. The hard part for us is we have a quick turnaround to St. Louis, so we have to give some consideration to – I don’t know if we can go with the traditional model of half and then the three quarters with it being such a quick turnaround. That’ll be brought up, as well.”

On how much putting a rookie into a situation with a large stage and pressure factors into his decision of who will start at quarterback:
“I think a lot of things will factor into it, but I’m not concerned about Johnny on a big stage. He’s proved throughout his career he can handle it.”

On if he likes the first cut being after the third preseason game and if it affects the arrangement of camp:
“A little bit, but since we play on Monday night that window is truly small because we don’t cut to 75 until after that game. I think that the people that it makes it most difficult on are the personnel staffs around the league. At least, they kind of get the cuts in two waves, so they can process the guys, peak at the other rosters of the guys that went from 90 to 75, and then the second, bigger wave of the final 18 players.”

On whether acquiring player later during camp makes it tougher for them to get acclimated:
“It is, that was one of things that were taken into consideration when it got voted down. It’s just that a volume of players all of a sudden, going from 90 to 53 all at one time that late in camp. It was a good idea to carry that many but I just think that there were too many negatives with it.”

On whether it was difficult to install new systems while losing two weeks of preparation for the draft and if he wished he had those weeks back:
“I didn’t have a problem with that. I think that we benefitted this year, as a staff, from the later draft because we were essentially the last staff hired. But I do like the league rule where that if you do have a new coaching staff you get your players in earlier. Most of the team started April 21, I believe. I believe we were April 7th, that was helpful for us. I’m very pleased, very proud of the coaching staff (in) that we’ve been able to get in everything that we wanted to get in and I think that we maybe a little bit ahead scheme-wise because it’s a pretty good group of teachers and we have a very responsible group of players.”

On whether DB Joe Haden received a day off being a team veteran:
“He did. It was just a cumulative thing with him and there were a couple of guys that didn’t go today that we just felt (that) heading into the day off it was in their best interest to give them two days off and they would be that much better off heading into a game weekend followed by a short week. Some of the guys that were down today you would notice it was more to get them to two days.”

On whether there is anything going on with WR Josh Gordon after being observed speaking with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam:
“No, just talking about crazy Cleveland weather (laughter).”

On DB Josh Aubrey practicing today with the first team and how he fits in the defense:
“He’s a good teammate; he’s a good football player. He’s not going to be a flashy guy, but he’s solid. He does his job and he’s a guy that we’re very pleased with his development. He’s really showed up when we’ve done live work. I thought that he had a good scrimmage, he made a couple of nice plays in the game, forced a fumble, had another tackle but he’s a guy that’s fighting for a spot. But he’s doing everything he can.”

On DL John Hughes in Saturday’s preseason game:
“Very similar to what I just said about Josh (Aubrey) that he’s not a flashy guy, but you look at his grade sheet and they’re all filled with pluses, so all he does is his job and he makes some plays. He’s a guy that, I think, is tough to block. I think (defensive line coach Anthony) Weaver’s done a great job with him to get him to understand the technique and how to release off of blocks and technically he’s one of our better guys up front.”

WR Charles Johnson

On how it’s been adapting to this offensive system:
“It’s been pretty good. I think I’m an intelligent guy. I pick up concepts pretty well. I come from a concept (based) system in Green Bay and also in college, so a concept (based) system really works for me. I’m able to learn things quickly.”

On being the last one off the field today and putting in the extra work:
“Yeah, I’ve got to. I’m behind right now. I’m out here trying to catch up to the other guys because I’ve been out for a long time. I’m trying to rehab and get back to where I need to be. I need to catch up. I don’t think I’m at where I want to be right now so I have to put in that extra work.”

On what he took from his experience playing against the Detroit Lions:
“It was a blessing to be out there. Just to be able to go back out there and be able to get in an NFL game and get my first NFL catch, even though it was the preseason, it was a great moment for me. All I want to do is cry because you never know when it could be your last day. Just for God to bless me here and be able to bless me on that field and get a catch – I could be gone tomorrow and I’ll still be happy with where I’m at.”

On coming from a smaller school and trying to make it in a big league like this:
“Guys always want to knock small school guys like we don’t have competition, but I think we come in and we’ve got a lot of competition at our level as well. Coming out here with these guys was really no jump for me when I came out as a rookie. The small school talk isn’t for me. You’ve got to come out here and work and compete.”

On if it’s a strange adjustment having the playbook on an iPad:
“It’s good and bad at the same time because sometimes there are some technical difficulties, but other times they can shoot stuff to you quick. It’s like, ‘Wow! Practice just got done like 30 minutes ago and it was already on the IPad 15 minutes ago.’ It’s so fast how they can get things to us. It’s good. I think it’s good.”

On it being strange to see them on the benches during the games:
“Oh, you’re talking about the IPad things that show the film. Yeah, that’s pretty new. That was neat. I saw that on TV. During the Hall of Fame game they were talking about them. I think that’s pretty neat how they can stream that through there. I was used to the papers. I always saw that, but now they’ve got the IPads and all that. I think it’s going to be good.”

On what he’s taken from WR Josh Gordon:
“Josh Gordon is an athletic freak. He’s one of a kind. Personally, I’ve seen him grow. You can see how he came out from when I first got here until now. You can just see how he’s grown. He’s a hard worker. You can see he comes out and he’s working harder and harder. I think he’s grown as a person. We’re a better team with Josh Gordon. I can tell you that. He comes out here and shows all of us love and he supports us even when he’s not practicing. We want to look up to him, we want to do right by him and we hope the best for him.”

WR Travis Benjamin

On why he’s faster than before his ACL injury:
“Mostly because I focus on my lower body and getting it stronger, knowing that I had an ACL injury. I just got it stronger every day and worked on my techniques to build that momentum I had.”

On if he feels like he really has to prove himself as a WR in his third year so he’s not just seen as a return guy:
“Not at all. I don’t want to put that bundle on my plate like that. I’m just going out there and waiting for my number to get called on offense or special teams. I’m just out there to play ball.”

On if he feels like he can fill a good role with so much uncertainty at the wide receiver position:
“Yeah, absolutely. Knowing that if (WR) Josh (Gordon) goes down, somebody’s got to be the next man up. Whoever’s number is called, they’ve got to be ready to step up.”

On if today was the best day he’s had during camp as far as catching passes:
“Yeah, I can say so. I’m getting my feet under myself, adjusting, getting more plays and taking more loads day by day.”

On if it was hard being patient coming back from the injury:
“I can say patience is always a key thing in just coming off an injury – knowing the importance of trying to stay healthy and making sure you’re there for the offense when they need you.”

On why he traded numbers with WR Charles Johnson:
“No reason at all. No reason at all. We were just working out one day and I was like, ‘Hey man, I’m trying to get out of 80.’ We just had a conversation and he was like, ‘OK, I’ll switch with you.’ That’s how it went.”

On if 11, his new number, is hard to get used to:
“I love it. Pittsburgh game one – everybody will get used to 11 by then.”

On if saving him as a punt return for the regular season and not having him do it right now in the preseason:
“(Special teams coordinator) Coach (Chris) Tabor and I have talked about it. He was just saying that it depends on how I feel. He knows what I can do on kick returns and punt returns, so it depends on how I feel. If I want to get back there and take a rep or two, it’s OK.”

On if he feels like doing it on Monday night against Washington:
“It depends on Coach Tabor. We have this bond and if he gives me that look, I know I’ve got to go back there.”