BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – The grueling days of 2-a-day practices are long gone with the new collective bargaining agreement which means Pat Shurmur and the coaching staff have to take advantage of their time on the field.
Monday morning Shurmur used practice for extended 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work including goal line and the 2-minute drill.
“I enjoy practicing the two-minute drill, it’s good for the football team,” Shurmur said. “There’s also a lot of conditioning in that drill.”
Brandon Weeden couldn’t muster a first down against the first team D during the first series of the 2-minute offense but was successful in the second series.
Following 3 incompletions, including 2 tipped balls at the line, Weeden dumped a pass off to Richardson and the coaches “gave” them the first down. He then completed passes to rookie Josh Gordon and then Mohamed Massaquoi on a 4th-and-2. Another catch on a deep out to Gordon set up a field goal.
Gordon was the third receiver with the first team in the 2-minute drill. Greg Little was in the slot with Massaquoi joining Gordon outside.
Colt McCoy led a field goal drive with the second team. He completed passes to Cameron over the middle for a first down and then Josh Cooper up the sideline.
Montario Hardesty continues to look impressive running the ball. He ran a couple of times to help set up the kick for McCoy’s group.
“I just feel good,” Hardesty said. “I don’t even think about the knee or anything like that. I can just go out and play football and not think about playing football. I think that’s what I was doing last year. I was thinking too much. I can just really go out and just play the game, react and do things that I do. So it’s just been fun getting back out there and playing.”
The first and second unit offense struggled running the ball inside the 2. Trent Richardson was stopped on a run up the middle once and Brandon Jackson was stopped twice.
The success came on play action throws to the tight ends in the end zone. The highlight of the goal line drill was Weeden’s fade to Ben Watson on the far side of the end zone while rolling out. McCoy threw a touchdown to Jordan Cameron for the other score.
Schwartz vs. Sheard: Rookie Mitchell Schwartz had his hands full today with defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
The two went at it, especially in the 2-minute drill. Sheard batted a pair of Weeden’s passes on back-to-back plays.
“He’s a great player,” Schwartz said. “He’s got a little bit of everything. He’s got the speed and the quickness. He’s good with his hands, he’s also got some power to him. So he’s a pretty complete player. Obviously it’s something that you can’t just prepare for one move against him because he can do so many different things. He really tests you.
“It’s great to have a guy like that to go against every day. You’re facing one of the better rushers in the league.”
Shurmur doesn’t view it as Schwartz struggling, he’s developing.
“The better the player you go up against in practice, the quicker you develop.” Shurmur said. “He came in with good technique. Fundamentally, he came in pretty ripe.”
Schwartz has spent a lot of time leaning on 5-time pro bowler Joe Thomas for advice and is in awe of Thomas’ work ethic.
“He’s been to 5 straight Pro Bowls in 5 seasons,” Johnson said. “He could sit back and not have to work as hard as other people, you might think, but that’s not true at all. He comes out every day, he’s working on something or another. Whether it’s his feet, whether it’s his hands, whether it’s some other aspect of his game, he’s always trying to get better. He’s not just kind of sitting back on what he’s done, he’s trying to make himself a better player every day.”
JMJ Separating Himself: Rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson has an opportunity to receive significant playing time with the suspension of Scott Fujita to start the season.
Johnson is taking advantage of the opportunity – especially now that they are in pads.
“As a linebacker, that’s what you want to do,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to do my best, show the coaches I can comprehend the defense, that I can go out there an run the defense if they need me to run it. Play whatever position that they need me to play.
He picked off a couple of passes Monday and was very active making plays in open space which did not go unnoticed.
“He had a couple of interceptions and looked good on the goal line,” Shurmur said. “The pads tend to separate the linebackers, and he’s had a couple of good days.”
Johnson, who is still acclimating himself to the speed of the NFL, was caught off guard when he was included in the first team goal line defense. He stood up Jackson shy of the goal line on a run up the middle.
“I was surprised they put me in there that fast,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know when goal line was coming. I didn’t know if it was at the end of practice, or the beginning and they’re like, ‘It’s right now!’ I was like, ‘Oh!’ So, you know, you’ve got to get your mind right for that. So it was cool. I think I did okay. I can always do better.”
Sticking With The Vet: Cornerback Sheldon Brown will likely remain the starter at corner opposite Joe Haden when the season starts Shurmur said Monday.
Shurmur said that he’s like the development of both Dimitri Patterson and Buster Skrine and hesitates to change from their current roles in the nickel and dime packages.
Rookie Trevin Wade has also caught Shurmur’s eye in the secondary as well.
Super Amazing: Haden described his 2011 season as “amazing except for 4 plays.”
When asked about Haden’s assessment following practice Shurmur replied, “Everyone has room to improve. We need him to be Super Amazing this year.”
Haden, who finished with 6 interceptions and 18 pass breakups as a rookie in 2010, didn’t record an interception last season but led the team with 19 passes defensed.
Injuries: Defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor, tight end Evan Moore, receiver Carlton Mitchell and fullback Eddie Williams did not practice.
Up Next: Players are off Tuesday – no practice. The next practice will be Wednesday afternoon at 2.