BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine said Sunday that he wanted to “hear” practice on Monday.
Although it seemed like there wasn’t much to be heard, Pettine was still satisfied with the effort.
“I thought our guys were solid,” Pettine said. “I thought they did a good job of taking care of each other. I still don’t want to go to the ground. We’re not going to cut block, and we don’t want to tackle guys to the ground.”
The first day in pads is always circled on the calendar for fans, coaches and even the players.
“For everybody who’s probably not a lineman, they love the first day of pads – fans, coaches, everybody,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “But even in my eighth year, you got a little bit of butterflies in your stomach before you come out here because this is real football. If you mess up, somebody’s going to get smacked.”
But there was no tackling Monday, and prior to the 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 team work Pettine called the entire team together to remind them to be competitive but not to get combative with each other.
“As much as you want to finish a guy, that’s something you don’t want to do when you’re all wearing the same logo,” Pettine said.
Defensive back Johnson Bademosi lit up receiver Nate Burleson after a catch and Pettine quickly waved his hand under his chin – his way of telling Bademosi to back off before he hut someone.
“It’s football, and sometimes, instincts just take over to kind of drop the shoulder, but we don’t want to do that to each other,” Pettine said. “That still falls to competitive not combative. That stuff’s not going to help them make the team. We want to be tough. We want to be nasty, but we want to play within the rules, and we certainly want to protect each other when we’re practicing.”
The first “live” tackling practice will take place Thursday morning and Saturday’s ‘Family Day’ session in Akron will also be full pads and “live.” Until then, the emphasis remains on protecting players by keeping them on their feet. He wants defenders to simulate a tackle by “thudding” or wrapping up the offensive player and then letting them go.
QB Competition – The leader board didn’t change Monday, but Johnny Manziel looked a more confident in pads – and a little bigger too.
Manziel committed the first turnover seen on day 3 when he was intercepted by Buster Skrine during a receiver vs. defensive back drill.
A pair of fellow rookies also swiped Manziel passes during team drills. Cornerback Justin Gilbert plucked a pass over the middle out of the air and linebacker Chris Kirksey jumped a rout and came away with a pick-6 to the delight of fellow defensive players who erupted as Kirksey ran down the sideline towards the end zone.
“Some plays, you’re going to have some good ones. You’re going to have some bad ones, and you hope you can minimize the bad ones,” Pettine said of Manziel’s learning curve. “If you have a learning moment on a certain play, you learn it, you tuck it away, and you don’t make that mistake again.
“We tell our players that they’re responsible for all of the coaching points at their position. Even if Johnny made a mistake, Brian needs to make sure he tucks that away and learns from it as well, so that’s true at all positions.”
Manziel moved the ball nicely in the final 11 on 11 session of practice, which ended in a short TD pass to fullback Ray Agnew, which was set up by a completion over the middle to Taylor Gabriel rolling the pocket.
Brian Hoyer continues to show a strong comfort level with Kyle Shanahan’s system and did a nice job with pre-snap reads at the line and making decisions quickly. His surgically repaired right knee is a non issue as he was crisp once again during individual and team work
Gilbert did get Hoyer in the receiver vs. dbs drill drawing an ovation from the crowd on the west side of the complex.
“I heard he made a heck of a play over here. I was watching the inside run,” Pettine said of Gilbert’s pick. “I heard and wanted to know what the crowd reaction was for. He’s flashed, but he’s a rookie. He’s got a lot of stuff to work on, but he’s flashed some of the things that we saw coming out of college, and that ability’s one of the reasons why we took him where we took him.”
Fight In The Dawg – Aside form his skill at the position, the Browns signed Karlos Dansby to help bring an edge, an attitude to the defense.
Dansby already sees that same attitude and intensity in a pair of rookies just 3 days into camp.
“Gilbert defiantly has it in him, yea he is a chippy guy. You know I like to see that in a young pup coming in,” Dansby said. “Chris Kirksey also he has it in him also. Some guys get it brought out of them. Certain situations on the field brings that dog out of them. Like I said you like to see that.”
Kirksey looks up to the veteran and is trying to follow his lead.
“This is is 11th year, I’m a rookie,” Kirksey said. “This is my first year, so he’s got ten years on me. I’m definitely looking up to him. I think a lot of guys in the room look up to him. He has a lot of knowledge.
“I just try to pick his brain. I ask him about gap responsibilities or formations or how you see things; you know, just tendencies of the offense. I just try to peek at that and see how he does it. He’s been a linebacker for 11 years and that’s something I want to do too.”
As for Gilbert, his speed and athleticism has been well documented but his ability to go after footballs came through for the first time on Monday.
“I’m looking to grab more. I’m trying to get more each day,” Gilbert said. “I’m trying to get better by the day. First day in pads, it felt kind of good. We finally got to rough up the receivers a little bit, go against the offense.”
Roster Moves – Tight end Gary Barnidge and linebacker Tank Carder were activated off of the non-footbll injury list. The Browns waived offensive lineman Chris Faulk, who hasn’t been able to overcome a knee injury suffered in 2012 at LSU, and kicker/punter Jake Rogers.
Day of Rest – Receivers Travis Benjamin and Charles Johnson were given the day off as part of the process of managing their returns from ACL injuries last season.
Going, Going, Almost Gone – The Browns have given out their scheduled allotment of passes for fans to attend camp for 11 of the 13 sessions in Berea including the first 10.
The team has a limited amount of passes remaining for Tues. Aug. 12 and Wed. Aug. 13, both of which start at 9:30 a.m.
Up Next – Practice Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.; no passes are available.
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