The Cleveland Browns got back to work on Monday after the defense dominated Family Day on Saturday afternoon in Akron. The biggest news featured rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel getting his first reps with the first team. Here are my “Dawg Bones” from Monday and Tuesday’s practices.
Johnny B’ Goode: Taking his first rep with the first team on Monday, Manziel orchestrated an awesome play action fake and hit a streaking Travis Benjamin for a forty yards down field. However, for the rest of the team drills, Manziel completed only six more passes and safety Donte Whitner picked him off on a tip drill. In today’s practice during team drills with the second team, Manziel completed five passes in a row at one point. Benjamin dropped a throw from Manziel right on the money that would have been a touchdown. Manziel also did work with the ones in 11-on-11 drills.
Number switch?: It was interesting to see Benjamin start with the first team on that first play Monday. It was obviously a designed play for him on play action. Benjamin is also donning the no. 11. For three seasons, Benjamin wore no. 80. Receiver Charles Johnson is now wearing no. 80. Interesting fact: Benjamin is listed as both the punt returner and kick returner on the depth chart.
Bye, Bye, Bye: Cleveland announced the release of four players. Tight end James Oboh, receiver Chandler “Jet” Jones, linebacker Edgar Jones, and offensive lineman Jason Pinkston were all released yesterday. (Read my Pinkston story here.)
PLAY LIKE A BROWN!: To steal a musical line from Disney’s Frozen, for the first time in forever…. I feel a totally different attitude in camp. I get the feeling that most of the players understand what it means to be a Cleveland Brown. The new slogan “Play Like a Brown” seems to be working and has trickled down to the players. That’s all fans have ever wanted from these players – to embrace the uniform and tradition just like they do.
Ex-SNEAD Me: For the third straight day, undrafted rookie free agent receiver Willie Snead shined. You will see him at the JUGS machine after every practice. Snead is running great routes and making plays. He found the end zone again in Monday’s practice. With a great exhibition once they go live, Snead is going to make this team. Can’t find Snead on the field? He wears no. 83 and has hair like Cleveland Cavaliers “wild thing” Anderson Varajao. Snead continued his good string of practices today with some nice catches.
Rookie Free Agent Corners: Defensive backs TJ Heath and Robert Nelson, both undrafted rookie free agents, had interceptions in Monday’s practice. They are both longshots to make the team, but you never know.
Veteran Presence: How can you not love veteran receiver Nate Burleson? With him and Miles Austin, the Browns finally have the veteran leadership at receiver they have been missing since Joe Jurevicius. Burleson can be seen talking to the younger receivers and helping them get better every day. At 32 years old, Burleson still has something left in the tank too.
Quote of the Day: Coach Mike Pettine was asked if Brian Hoyer was going to start against Detroit on Saturday night. His response, “I can’t say that is 100% at this point.” Very interesting, but let’s not read too much into it. Note: Tuesday morning, the depth chart was released and Hoyer was QB1. Hoyer took the first team snaps today.
Prime Time: There was a Deion Sanders sighting yesterday in Berea. Sanders was in town finding out what all the hype is about, not with Manziel, but the Browns defense. The Hall-of-Famer called the defense “phenomenal” and expects the defense to be real good.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook: Ryan (BrownsWriter) Ruiz and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Browns correspondent for The Sportsfix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net. Email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org