Injuries continue to be the big story coming out of Berea. No, there weren’t any new ones Monday morning, but the fifteen players who sat out practice on Sunday were all still out for Monday’s practice as well.
Don’t expect to hear any updates from the Browns until they absolutely have to give one either.
Missing from the first team defense are D’Qwell Jackson, Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong, Phil Taylor, Frostee Rucker and Usama Young. That is if Young will even be a starter at this point. Throw in Patterson, Benard and Paxson from further down the depth chart as well.
Here is a little perspective on what that means. During practice the senior players- the starters and most experienced at each position lead the rest of the group through drills. Today at the LB drills, the first reps were being taken by Kaluka Maiava. In 11 on 11 drills, Maiava was joined by James-Michael Johnson and LJ Fort. (Fort by the way had a new fan at practice today. Someone pulled the old duck tape and sharpie marker trick with a Hillis jersey.)
The plus side to the small injuries is that young players get plenty of reps in practice. The downside, well is obvious. This team is trying to get ready for the season. They are treating this second preseason game as the dress rehearsal because of the Eagles game scheduling fiasco. (For the record, Pat Shurmur said today that he thinks everyone is making the situation with Philadelphia to be more of a big deal than it needs to be.)
The players and coaches agree though, the next man up has to perform when given the opportunity.
TJ Ward was asked about stepping up his leadership, especially with all the linebackers out. He said that there needs to be more communication when the younger guys are in there, but added “Regardless of who is out there, I have to step up as a leader.” Ward is right in that he, like Haden are being counted on more than ever this season on that defense. If the Browns are going to build a winning defense Ward, Haden and Sheard will need to be part of that group.
It was an up and down day for the pass catchers. With Watson and Jordan Cameron out, the reps were split between Alex Smith, Evan Moore and Dan Gronkowski. Smith made a couple of nice plays, including a leaping catch of a Brandon Weeden pass. The same could not be said of Jermaine Saffold, who had the drops today.
Jordan Norwood made a couple catches in 7 on 7 drills, but Josh Cooper may have had the best day of any receiver. That is an interesting battle. It would be tough to see the Browns carrying both Norwood and Cooper on the active roster during the season. Cooper has probably earned at least a practice squad spot by now.
Pat Shurmur seemed to be more vocal with the group today. My opinion anyway.
Travis Benjamin missed practice again with what Shurmur continues to call ‘game soreness’. Fujita was out with the same. You would expect Fujita to have the right to sit out some time with his age and experience. It seems strange that Benjamin isn’t on the field at all with just soreness.
Shurmur said that any player that practices tomorrow could play against the Packers on Thursday. Tomorrow’s practice is just shorts and helmets, and you would expect any player who is truly hurt would participate. Especially if they have to in order to play on Thursday.
The team worked on short yardage passing today. They simulated 3rd and 5 in some 11 on 11 work. It didn’t go well for the first team offense to be honest. Or the second team for that matter.
Monterio Hardesty had a couple of nice runs for first downs, including one over the left side on third and one.
There was a lengthy conversation between several media members and the Browns about twitter and social media policies. The Browns said that of the players in camp, 65 have a twitter account. They called them ‘active’ if they used it 2 or 3 times a week. Shurmur is not a fan of the players using the social media platforms, and would prefer that they keep it about personal things and not team related at all.
Personally, I didn’t get the line of questioning. If you aren’t following the players, how can you be doing all you can to cover the team?
Shurmur confirmed that the starters will play the first half. He said they will evaluate things at the half and determine if the ones will play anymore. (Don’t bet on it.) When asked if it would make sense for Weeden to play a little more, say with the twos, he said he didn’t want to mix the ones and twos. He said it could get sloppy.
Which sounds like the perfect word to describe the MASH unit on defense right now. Sloppy. Especially against the run.