CLEVELAND, OH – As training camp sets in for the Cleveland Browns and their diehard fan base that pack the facility every practice, Monday and Tuesday’s practice opened in full pads. Head coach Mike Pettine wanted to see some “thudding” and that’s exactly what fans received. Here is my news and notes from practice as we get closer to live football just 11 days away from the exhibition opener for the Browns.
Much better, Justin: Browns first round draft pick Justin Gilbert looked much better in both practices this week. Gilbert looked as advertised in college during one-on-one drills and exceptional in seven-on-seven drills. The rookie picked off a ball during both drills and stayed on his feet. His athletic ability was clear to see in both days. Also, Pettine has no plans for Gilbert to be the starting kick returner this season.
Johnny Manziel vs Brian Hoyer cont…: Hoyer looked much more comfortable and precise in Monday’s practice. Browns rookie phenom QB Manziel made some decent throws on the run, but looked irritated in the pocket at times. Manziel found rookie fullback Ray Agnew on play action fake for a touchdown to end Monday’s practice on a solid note.
Intensity steps up: While it’s not a great thing when teammates get into squirmishes in practice, it is somewhat refreshing and entertaining. More importantly, it shows a little fire and gets the adrenaline up for the coaches, players, and fans. In Tuesday’s practice, veteran leaders Donte Whitner and Ben Tate went at it and caused a sideline clearing small brawl. Tate had a little reason to be upset with the no-nonsense Whitner. After the play, Whitner ripped the ball loose from Tate and the ball tumbled ten yards down field. Defensive end Ahtyba Rubin was also involved in the brawl. Both days of practice featured some minor feistiness with the players.
Up-sy Kirksey!: It is awesome to see rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey making plays. In college at Iowa, Kirksey is a jack-of-all trades linebacker and particularly looked good in pass coverage. In Monday’s practice, Kirksey had a nice leaping interception against Manziel and appeared very comfortable in the defensive team drills.
Return of the Orange: Pettine held a competition with the offense vs. defense on Tuesday. For the defense’s efforts, the reward was the rights to wear orange jerseys in Thursday’s practice. However, only four days into camp, the defense should absolutely look better as the offense installs the basics of Kyle Shanahan‘s offense.
Grand Valley State Watch: Last season, the Browns plucked Charles Johnson from the Green Bay Packers practice squad. After recovering from ACL surgery, Johnson is looking to make this team in 2014. He has looked very complete in practice so far and Pettine is praising him early, “He’s a guy that is deceptively fast. He doesn’t look like he’s covering a lot of ground but he is. He’s got long arms and he’s got big hands. He’s a guy that we hope can emerge from this as guy that can help us.”
ZB Scheme lookin’ good: So far, the Cleveland offense line looks like they grasp the zone blocking scheme. With left guard Joel Bitonio “NFL ready” according to Pettine, the line seems to really be gelling only four days into practice.
Who’s the new guy?: The Browns signed veteran receiver Marlon Moore on Monday. Moore, 26, has played for the Miami Dolphins and most recently the San Francisco 49ers. However, Howard Balzer of The Sports Xchange reported in May that Moore will serve a one game suspension in the 2014 regular season. As of this moment, the Browns have 13 receivers in camp.
Gordon Hires Sherman’s Attorney: Just days before he has his appeal hearing with the NFL, the Pro Bowl wide receiver hired attorney Maurice Suh. This is the same Suh that helped Richard Sherman win his appeal of a contested positive banned substance test a couple years ago. With this move, it is obvious that Gordon is not going down without a fight.
Off Day: Do to NFL rules, the Browns are off on Wednesday and will resume practice on Thursday at 9:30AM.
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