Reporting Dustin Fox
With training camp beginning this past week I was able to take in this mornings first practice of the year in full pads. Like I’ve said many times before, anybody can run around in shorts and helmets and look good, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing until the pads start cracking.
Here are a few things that stood out to me during the first full practice in pads:
Defensive Backs: Being defensive back myself I’ll start there as my focus always seems to be on the DB’s.. I can’t help it!
- Joe Haden looks like he may be ready for a breakout year after a disappointing sophomore season. He had several pass breakup’s and as he has always shown he has a swagger about himself that is incredible. To be an elite corner in this league you have to have the confidence in your ability and Haden clearly does not lack in that department.
- TJ Ward is a guy who I will have my eye on all camp and all preseason because he needs to have a big year. He first came onto the scene as a rookie with some of his devastating hits. I know people in Cleveland love that but it’s going to take him developing into a more complete safety if he wants to have success in this pass happy league. Today I was pleasantly surprised with his ability in 1 on 1′s against some of the wide receivers. He showed good change of direction and also broke up some passes. My concern with him and always will be can he focus on making plays consistently as opposed to going for the “big hit.”
- Eric Hagg is a big unknown for me and also a concern as he will be asked to start at free safety without much experience. He appears to have too much of a slender build for my liking but does make plays. He did that today by picking off a Weeden pass during 7 on 7. I will keep my eyes on him throughout camp.
Wide Receivers: For the first time in a while I think the wide outs actually have some talent and maybe an opposing threat to defenses.
- At first glance Josh Gordon looks like he’s gonna be a player! Big, Physical, Fast and just looks the part. Also showed excellent hands today.
- Mohamed Massaquoi looks like he maybe finally healthy this year and he needs to be. Remember he’s in a contract year and for whatever reason guys in a contract year tend to ball out! Many times today they lined him up on the outside with Greg Little in the slot and Josh Gordon opposite. I love that lineup because I really think Little can have success in the slot. It creates match up problems for third corners and he’s not the best at getting off press coverage, so it’s a perfect fit for him.
- Greg Little looks leaned out and is also a big imposing figure. Hopefully he can fix the dropsies this year but I really do like him.
- Travis Benjamin looks like he is in high school but man can he run! In one particular 1 on 1 with Joe Haden he released off the line with ease and burst down the field. I think he will have an impact as a rookie assuming he doesn’t get broke in half.
- Trent Richardson is gonna be a monster! So explosive and shifty. I saw that his build and size will help him as he can hide behind the o-line and then burst through the hole. He caught a screen pass today and took it about 50 yards for a TD against the first team defense in 11 on 11.
- The big surprise to me today was Montario Hardesty. He’s changed his number, leaned out and looks to be healthy for the first time since he’s been a Cleveland Brown. I thought that Hardesty could be on the way out but after seeing him today I’m optimistic he could be who Tom Heckert thought he was when he picked him in the 2nd round. Keep an eye on him throughout camp!
Ok ..Time for the Quarterbacks:
- Weeden has a cannon for an arm. He just makes you say “wow” sometimes when he throws the ball. You can still see that he’s going to struggle at times this year because he does try and fit the ball in windows that are much tighter than in college. I think Browns fans are in for a much different offense this year..and I mean that in a positive way!
- The battle for number two will be interesting because we have no idea how the team plans to handle it. Will McCoy be here or will he be traded? That remains to be seen but at this point. I will say this.. based on the practices I’ve seen in the spring and so far this fall Seneca Wallace appears to have a leg up on the job. He makes the throws and is just consistent. We know what Seneca is.. he is a back up QB who knows the offense, and can come in and play with out a lot of reps in practice.