BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Entering training camp, the Cleveland Browns felt pretty good about their depth at most positions.
The team is finding out just how deep the roster really is on the field.
For the second consecutive day, a total of 15 players missed practice. Of the 15 Browns not practicing, 1 is out for the year (Chris Gocong) and another for 1/2 the year (Phil Taylor).
Including Gocong, 6 of starting front 7 are injured and a total of 8 starters combined.
Even coach Pat Shurmur is finding it tough to hide the difficulty of having so many players out.
“Today was one of those dog days,” Shurmur said. “This was a work day and a dog day of training camp and the guys pushed through it.”
As of now, the defense is in the worst shape.
All 3 starting linebackers did not practice Monday. Gocong is of course lost for the year but Scott Fujita and D’Qwell Jackson did not practice either.
Undrafted rookie free agent L.J. Fort, rookie James Michael Johnson and Kaluka Maiava handled the first team reps again today.
The 6-foot, 230-pound Fort has impressed Shurmur.
“I think he’s had an excellent camp,” Shurmur said. “When we left in June, I was looking forward to him playing well in training camp because as I’ve said before, when linebackers put their pads on, then they start to separate. I think when he started wearing his pads and playing the game for real, he showed me more.”
Monday morning, Fort intercepted Colt McCoy in the end zone to end an 11-on-11 session. It’s plays like that, that have caught Shurmur’s attention.
“I think he’s got very good instincts,” Shurmur said. “He’s got the right size, the skill and ability to play the position, kind of a powerful build. And again, you have to have good instincts to be a linebacker and play three downs.”
Trevin Wade, a seventh round pick in April, has replaced Patterson in the first team nickel package.
“I’m just going with the flow right now,” Wade said. “Wherever coach puts me I’m just trying to pick up on the game faster so if I do get thrown in the fire I’ll be fine.”
Covering the slot is not easy in the NFL but Wade is confident he can handle it.
“It’s pretty hard if you’re not playing with technique because you’re in the middle of the field guarding a little quick guy,” Wade said. “You just have to be patient and believe what the coaches are telling you. Play your technique and you’ll be fine.”
With Frostee Rucker sidelined with an undisclosed injury, Rucker wore an ice pack on his right knee during practice Monday, Emmanuel Stephens has stepped in for him at right defensive end while John Hughes, Billy Winn and Scott Paxson continue to rotate up front.
Piping Down: Josh Cribbs is a fan favorite and at times a bit out spoken.
As his role and focus has returned to special teams this season, he plans to not be as vocal as he has been in years past – with a caveat.
“As long as we’re winning, I’m going to sit there and score 100 TDs on returns and make 100 tackles,” Cribbs said. “The only time you’ll hear me is if we’re not winning and I can give us a chance to win.
“That’s the only time you’ll hear my voice.”
Cribbs’ reps on offense have disappeared until the last two days at receiver. The loss of Mohamed Massaquoi to a concussion has him back with the first team.
Either way he’s content – provided the Browns win.
“I just want to win,” Cribbs said. “If guys are capable in front of me and they get the job done, I’m all for it. You wont hear me unless we’re not winning off the break and I know I can help us win.”
Richardson Update: Running back Trent Richardson has returned to Berea to rehab from arthroscopic surgery last week.
“Trent’s here and he’s getting better,” Shurmur said. “When he’s ready, he’ll be out. But he’s here. He’s here all day long doing his thing trying to get healthy.”
Richardson had a small piece of cartilage, which was causing irritation, removed from his left knee by Dr. James Andrews on Aug. 9.
The Browns remain hopeful that he’ll be ready for Sept. 9th against Philadelphia.
Crowded House: Another 2,029 fans visited training camp on Monday.
Through 11 sessions open to the public in Berea, the Browns are averaging 2,894 fans per practice. Last year the team averaged 1,647 per session.
Injuries: For the second consecutive day, 15 players did not practice Monday.
WR Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion), CB Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), S Usama Young (reported hamstring), RB Trent Richardson (left knee scope), FB Eddie Williams (undisclosed), LB Chris Gocong (torn right Achilles tendon), LB D’Qwell Jackson (reported shoulder soreness), DE Marcus Benard (undisclosed), DT Scott Paxson (right knee), WR Travis Benjamin (general soreness), TE Ben Watson (undisclosed), TE Jordan Cameron (back), DE Frostee Rucker (right knee), DT Phil Taylor (pectoral surgery) and LB Scott Fujita (general soreness).
Shurmur expects a few players to return to the field Tuesday and play Thursday night in Green Bay.
“Yeah, there’s a couple that could,” Shurmur said. “The ones that are out here practicing [Tuesday] will have the ability to play against the Packers.”
Up Next: The Browns will practice Tuesday morning at 8:45 a.m. Gates open at 7:45 for fans. There is no practice Wednesday.