The headline says it all. It was a very interesting and entertaining day seven of Cleveland Browns training camp from the teams training facility in Berea, Ohio. If you were part of the season est 3,187 fans who watched Thursday’s practice, you had just about everything and the kitchen sink.
Let’s start on the injury front. 15 players were held out of practice on Thursday for a variety of reasons. Here’s the list of who was out and why. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (hamstring), defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (knee), running back Duke Johnson Jr. (hamstring), Malcom Johnson (shoulder), Joe Madsen (concussion), running back Luke Lundy (concussion), linebacker Barkevious Mingo (knee), defensive back Robert Nelson Jr. (hamstring), wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (hamstring), defensive lineman Randy Starks (rest), tight end Randall Telfer (foot), left tackle Joe Thomas (rest), running back Terrance West (calf), defensive lineman Billy Winn (knee/ankle) and running back Glenn Winston (knee).
Two more players left Thursday’s practice early because of injuries. Defensive back Pierre Desir suffered a hamstring injury and tight end Kevin Haplea suffered a knee injury when he got rolled up on during an inside drill.
The biggest news on the injury front doesn’t relate to Pryor who is being held out of Friday’s scrimmage in Columbus.. It deals with Mingo. Head coach Mike Pettine told reporters he had a procedure on his knee and will miss some time. The injury happened during practice on Tuesday. Pettine feels for Mingo and all the players currently battling injuries.
“You always do, especially a guy that works that hard, that is that quality a character, an individual that it’s important to him and he puts the time in,” Pettine said. “Unfortunately, you have some guys that get some unfortunate injuries but you root for guys like that to come back, and come back and play well.”
Thursaday was another good day for Johnny Manziel. It’s the second straight practice that the second year quarterback has looked good in calling plays and executing NFL quality throws. His performance has forced Pettine to call an audible for Friday’s scrimmage. Wednesday, Pettine said that Manziel was only going to work with the second team offense. Thursday, he said Manziel will get some work with the first team. That doesn’t mean Josh McCown hasn’t lost the starting quarterback battle and Manziel still has a lot of work to do.
“When you come in everyday with a great attitude and you work and it’s important to you, you can’t help but get better,” Pettine said. “I’m just happy for him that he’s getting the results on the field and the guys around him sense that as well.”
“I still feel coming off the field the last couple of days that I am still leaving some things there that I want to do better,” Manziel said. “It is a night and day difference from last year. It is night and day from the first day even coming out here. I am pleased with the progression of getting better and coming out some of these days and having a high completion percentage and getting the ball where it needs to go. There are little things that are keeping me from taking another step. We have another week until the preseason game. These preseason games will be a good test to really evaluate that in a game setting.”
A big reason for Manziel’s improved play here in year two than in his rookie campaign, he does not have the spotlight shining on him all the time. He enjoys not being the center of attention.
“I think me and Coach Pett were joking about it yesterday. It is nice to come out here and wear any kind of shoes I want and that is not the main story the next day. I don’t have to have this, this and this. It is funny and we can look back on it now and laugh a little bit. Expectations in my corner and the hype and everything is a little bit tempered and down, and that for me is a good thing. Now I can come out and play and do my game and really get to learn. That is what I needed to do. I just needed to learn, be patient with this and the thing I am struggling with now is not to be too hard on myself. There are going to be some aches and bumps here, but when we go in, in the afternoon we are learning a lot from what is happening on the field, which is a great thing.”
Pettine decided to have a little fun before wrapping up day seven of training camp. In the battle for the camouflage jerseys, Pettine had members of the offensive and defensive lines attempt to make a 25-yard field goal. There were some very ugly attempts but finally on try number 14, center Alex Mack, who is coming off a leg injury from last season, connected to give the offense the win.
The battle for the place kicker position is between the local kid Carey Spear from Mayfield, Ohio and Travis Coons. No matter who wins the job, it won’t taken away by a member of either the offensive or defensive line.
“Very fair to say. Our backup kicker is not in the O-Line room or in the D-Line room,” Pettine said.
The Browns also had a couple of visitors to camp on Thursday. One was expected, the other not so much. Local chef and co host of ‘The Chew’ on ABC Michael Symon, a big Browns fan was in attendance. Symon was the one guest expected in Berea. The one that wasn’t a drone. Someone was flying their drone around the Browns training facility in Berea. The drone made for some funny moments for Pettine following practice.
“That is not ours for the record. I know I’ve been asked about that before but the FAA probably got a phone call. Somebody told me, I guess the airspace over the field is obviously private but it’s ok to be over, as long as it’s outside of the fence. That drone was definitely- it might have been Ravens or Steelers or Bengals, but it was not…I mentioned shooting it down, but you have to get creative in how you do it.”
Up next for the Browns is the first of two road trips for practices during training camp. The Browns are in Columbus for their annual team scrimmage that comes up on Friday. “The Horseshoe’ on the campus of Ohio State University will change colors from scarlet and gray to brown and orange for one night only. An estimated crowd of 70 thousand is expected to attend. If you aren’t going to the scrimmage in person, the NFL Network will provide coverage from six until eight on Friday evening.
The Browns will be off on Saturday and then return to practice in Berea on Sunday morning to begin preparing for next Thursday’s preseason opener against the Washington Redskins at FirstEnergy Stadium.