Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – A day after beating the Green Bay Packers 35-10, the Browns were back on the practice field Friday afternoon cleaning up various mistakes found on film.
Friday afternoon, the Browns looked like a team that had just taken their opponent to the woodshed. Players and coaches appeared to have a little spring to their step during the 90 minute session on the field.
Coach Pat Shurmur wanted to see improvement against the Packers and he did in just about every phase of the game.
“To be able to go into a storied football environment and win a game, it’s a preseason game I get that, but that’s an important thing,” Shurmur said. “That’s a great place to play, that’s a fun place to play, but I saw a lot of young guys on the sideline that were playing fast and playing hard and enjoying the experience. I think that’s important for the team. I saw individual players play a lot of plays and have some success.
“I don’t want to over evaluate that, but the fact that they competed and had fun doing it and had a little bit of success, I think is a good thing.”
Although they are 2-0 half way through the preseason, Shurmur isn’t ready to feel too good about his team just yet. They still have a lot of work to do.
“I don’t feel like we’re over the hump,” Shurmur said. “I feel like we’ve got three work weeks left. I think there’s a lot we need to get done. We’ve got to get a lot better in my opinion to be where we need to be. In terms of the hump, I think the training camp practices will change a little bit, but it’s a steady amount of work, more than a hump.”
With the first roster cut down to 75 players set for Monday Aug. 27 by 4 p.m., Shurmur and his staff continue to evaluate who may or may not make the team behind the scenes.
“There are some spots still there to be won or lost in my opinion,” Shurmur said. “Hopefully, we’ll get this team to where we have a lot of tough decisions every year, where there’s great competition at every spot.”
The 53 man roster cuts are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31 at 9 p.m.
Ball Hawks: One of the many things that Shurmur has emphasized entering this season is creating and coming up with turnovers on defense.
The Browns were tied for 13th league wide with a +1 ratio in 2011.
“I think our defensive coaches have done a nice job of emphasizing when the ball is in the air, don’t deflect it, pick it,” Shurmur said. “We recovered fumbles and there’s nothing more devastating than obviously sacking the quarterback or turning the ball over. Those are real big boosts for a team and I think our defense has done an outstanding job of getting turnovers.
“Regardless of the type of game, preseason or regular season, when that shows up it shows me that the players are working on it.”
During every practice, the entire defensive unit works on recovering loose footballs throughout various drills be it tip drills, pick drills, fumble drills or a “loose ball” drill.
Through 2 preseason games the Browns have come away with 6 turnovers.
“We’re getting after the ball,” rookie defensive tackle John Hughes said. “Eleven hats sprinting to the ball, it makes a big difference.”
Chemistry Is Key: Quarterback Brandon Weeden continues to work on his timing and chemistry with receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon.
Little caught 4 of the 5 passes throw his way Thursday night but the drop should’ve been a routine catch while Gordon didn’t fare as well. He caught just 2 of the 5 passes thrown in his direction for 38 yards and 1 of the inclompletions nearly resulted in an interception.
“I think me and Greg are getting on the same page,” Weeden said. “We’re working hard at it and we’re communicating a lot about a lot of different things. But the route with Gordon—again, I talked to him before the game, during he game, and after the game about certain things that I see that I think he can do. So just little things, just getting on the same page. And this game is so tough — a yard here and there can determine the outcome.”
Welcome Back: Tight end Jordan Cameron, defensive end Frostee Rucker and receiver Travis Benjamin returned to practice Friday.
Rucker, who had been out since Aug. 1, continues to wear a large brace on his right knee.
Cameron said he sustained a bruised bone in his back after coming down with a 42 yard reception against the Lions but he’s feeling much better.
“Sitting [out] the last week, you kind of lose something,” Gordon said. “Obviously, you’re not getting the reps that I’ve been getting but it kind of gives you a chance to get there and get the mental aspect going. Kind of sit back and watch things. I’ve kind of been doing a lot of that but definitely losing the reps doesn’t help.”
Cameron, who has had a good camp prior to the injury, was frustrated to have to sit a week.
“It was just annoying,” Cameron said. “I wanted to be out there and keep playing. And for it to end like that, I wanted obviously to get out there and try to make some more plays and kind of showcase what I’ve been doing during camp. But it happens. It’s part of the game, bounce back and I’ll be good.”
Benjamin had also been out following the Lions game wouldn’t say what’s been keeping him out.
“I was kind of nicked up,” Benjamin said. “I wasn’t actually sore. I had a few minor problems, but it’s okay now.”
Benjamin is confident that he didn’t miss much and what he did miss, he’ll catch up quickly.
“I haven’t missed anything,” Benjamin said. “Actually, I was here the whole time. I watched film, watched practice. Mentally, I stayed on top of everything so I could just be still in the game.”
Injuries: 14 players did not participate in Friday’s practice.
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), DT Scott Paxson (right knee), OL Oniel Cousins (general soreness), TE Ben Watson (undisclosed), DT Phil Taylor (pectoral surgery) and LB Scott Fujita (general soreness) LB Emmanuel Acho (general soreness), WR Rod Windsor (undisclosed) and DE Juqua Parker (undisclosed).
Up Next: The Browns are off Saturday. The will practice Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.