After taking the last three days in full pads, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur opted to let his players run Thursday’s practice in shells as the Orange and Brown gear up for their first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
As the team will host the Super Bowl champions in just a little over a day, here are some quick notes involving your Cleveland Football Browns:
– Donning helmets and shorts, Shurmurs squad was able to fly around Berea with the goal of ramping up their learning curve with about 36 hours until kickoff. Resting tired legs from a hitting standpoint, Thursday’s practice featured a heavy dose of passing as the team opted for drills involving receivers and tight ends versus the secondary as well as a large focus on red zone play, again featuring their pass-catching weapons.
– With Mohammed Massaquoi moving to a walking boot – Shurmur hopes it will be a shoe allowing him to do some light running sooner than later – rookie Greg Little was frequently seen running with the first-team offense. Aside from a 50/50 ball that wound up in the hands of fellow first-year player Buster (whose given name is Randall) Skrine, Little caught every ball thrown his way. It was noted that Little had had some rough days at camp leading up to today, but he has undoubtedly taken it all in stride, stating his mantra is to “build off of the day before.” He most certainly did so today.
– Skrine himself had an excellent day, pulling in the interception, running with the first team in nickel situations and being all over the field. Following practice, he repeatedly used the term “technique” as he has somewhat been typecasted as a speed guy coming out of college. While he is amazingly fast, his willingness to go toe-to-toe with oversized and freakishly athletic tight ends was very impressive on this day. He was abused a bit by Evan Moore on a red zone play, but nothing to these ends (whom he is giving almost a foot to in stature) was a gimme.
– That said, expect a ton of passing to tight ends. The Browns have cornered the market in athletically gifted tight ends and they’re using them. A lot. Ben Watson, Evan Moore and Jordan Cameron all caught multiple passes in various situations. These guys will be fun to watch in the red zone.
– It was during one-on-one drills when safety Usama Young pulled up lightly with a hamstring injury attempting to guard Moore. Mike Adams took over as the first-string free safety for the rest of the day. It wouldn’t surprise me if Young was given time to recuperate.
– For what it’s worth, fans will see a lot of Skrine throughout Saturday’s contest as he has officially been deemed second team punt and kick returner. “I’ll be seeing a lot of time. Everything I’ve been gifted with, I’m going to use it,” Skrine said following the three-hour practice.
– As he has all preseason, Pat Shurmur has had glowing remarks about his rookie speedster. “He competes and is a scrappy, scrappy guy,” Shurmur said following drills. Giving Dimitri Patterson some rest today, Skrine stepped up and answered every challenge that was given to him; this is apparently a trend as Shurmur had noticed Skrine hiding in the back during the first few sessions of post-practice stretching only to see the defensive back fighting for a spot in the first few rows within days.
Skrine says that several fans have challenged the track star to a 40-yard dash, but no teammate has been willing to take him on. Also worth noting, the largest home attendance Skrine says he had in Tennessee-Chatanooga was around 18,000. He’s looking forward to the energy that Cleveland fans can provide every Sunday this season.
– Brandon Jackson has been dubbed a “key guy” for this Browns offense. A scheme fit, Jackson has impressed all through camp. While Peyton Hillis is obviously the lead guy in the backfield, there will be considerably less concern about him breaking down with Jackson on the roster. He was used in running plays, as rare as they were, as well as passing downs out of the backfield. No word on if he had been helping the defense scheme in preparation for his former team.
– Montario Hardesty was still inactive despite having his helmet. No word on when he’ll be given clearance. All other players who spoke said that they were eager to get back on the field. The first team will be playing for the entire first quarter on Sunday, per Pat Shurmur.
Photo via Craig Lyndall/WFNY