On Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns took to the practice field in front of a moderate number of fans. It was hot and the pads were back on. As I watched from the bleachers in a crowded brown-and-orange crowd, I sensed that these fans had a feeling of hope while watching their beloved Browns. Here are my “Dawg Bones” from camp yesterday.
QB1 Battle continued: Both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel were coming off good practices the previous day. In 11-on-11 team drills, Manziel started with the ones and Hoyer followed with the second team. It is clear as day that Manziel’s favorite toy so far is Andrew Hawkins. They hooked up for passes of 26, 24, and 15 yards in team and situation drills. Hoyer’s day was shaky to say the least and did not complete one pass in situation drills. After practice, coach Mike Pettine announced that Hoyer will start against the Detroit Lions.
Just an Observation: When the Browns signed running back Ben Tate, fans were pretty happy. Tate himself, knew that he finally got the opportunity to be a full-time starter in the NFL. However, the Browns drafted Terrance West in the third round of this past draft and he is slowly becoming a fan favorite. The running backs did the agility ladder drill right in front of where I was parked. Tate always went first in the drill and West actually went last. Just by reading the body language of the two of them interacting – they don’t like each other. It doesn’t seem like there is any camaraderie there. It is a true “no holds barred” competition.
Funny Guy: Edwin Baker did exceptional in the last three games of the season last year. Browns fans like his blue-collar running style and the guy is in awesome shape. As the running backs left the agility ladder drill, the crowd cheers them on while there heading off. Baker turns around acknowledges the crowd and bows. Fans laugh simultaneously.
Crowd Chatter: I love interacting with the fans at camp. Some of them are pretty knowledgeable and others have no clue. My favorite over heard chatter was, “If Josh Gordon doesn’t get suspended, the Browns will win the AFC North division!” Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer tweeted out about twenty minutes into practice that Gordon was looking at an eight game suspension per her source.
Lion Heart: The more I watch Jim Leonhard on the field, the more I like the signing. At only 5’8″, Leonhard is the smallest guy on the entire defense. But make no mistake, he is not afraid to hit someone or lead. When he’s out there with the second team defense, he is the quarterback and leader.
More West: What a bowling ball of a running back. West had a few nice runs and a natural looking spin move against the Browns secondary. It is hard to not like him and he reminds me of a throwback runner like Natrone Means or Jerome Bettis. I absolutely loved what he did in the middle of practice too. After he took his rep, West came over to the crowd and slapped hands with everyone in the first row. Earlier in practice the crowd would talk to him and wave, West acknowledged every fan that said his name. He is going to be a fan favorite if not already.
Respect: It got a little “chippy” between nose tackle Phil Taylor and Tate in team drills. After a Tate zone run, Taylor gave him a little shove. Tate retaliated by shoving back and Taylor grabbed Tate’s facemask. The running back then flipped the ball into Taylor’s face and walked away. A series later, Taylor chased down Tate after a run and pulled out his towel from his pants. You could just see the frustration in Tate’s body language. Afterwards, Taylor and Tate made up.
Red Hot Johnny: Overall, Manziel has strung together a nice week of practice. He is learning day by day and progressing each practice. So far, it looks like a lot of the players, both offensive and defensive, respect Manziel. At one point in 7-on-7 situational football, Manziel threaded six passes in a row. The score was tied 10-10 with 1:05 left in the first half. Manziel calmly led his team to a touchdown. Hoyer threw an interception in that same drill.
Carry on: The Browns are practicing today, but it is not open to the public as they prepare for their first preseason game this Saturday against the Lions at Ford Field.
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 ryan.ruiz@http://126.96.36.199/~theinscr