August 26, 2014

Browns make roster cuts down to 76, WR Anthony Armstrong most notable

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The Cleveland Browns announced a round of roster cuts on Monday morning. The team cut the roster to 76 players, which leaves them with one more cut to make by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The players who were waived:

DB Royce Adams
RB Edwin Baker
OL Randall Harris
DB T.J. Heath
DL Cam Henderson
WR Jonathan Krause
OL Ryan Lee
LB Caleb McSurdy
OL Keavon Milton
LB Keith Pough
WR Tim Smith
OL Jeremiah Warren
TE Martell Webb

Contract terminated:
WR Anthony Armstrong

Armstrong received a lot of buzz the first week of training camp, but hasn’t produced much since. Royce Adams had a brutal preseason, especially the second game against Washington.

Injuries are likely making these decisions a little tougher. Several defensive backs (Joe Haden and Buster Skrine to name a couple) are expected back for the opener, but will not play on Thursday night against the Bears.

[Related: Winners and Losers from Browns-Rams]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Kevin Love billboard unveiled downtown

Well, that didn’t take long. A Kevin Love “Welcome to Cleveland” billboard went up this morning in downtown Cleveland. The billboard is from Starter and features Kevin Love in an old school Cavs jacket.

Here’s another angle:

The introductory press conference is scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Browns continue ugly preseason against Rams

Hoyer

The Cleveland Browns’ first string offense finally scored a touchdown. It came in the third preseason game with less than a minute left in the first half, after the St. Louis Rams scored the first 20 points in the game.

Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Hawkins which was set-up by a long kick-off return by Marlon Moore. Hoyer was 10-16 for 84 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The pick led to a touchdown for the Rams.

While the offense has struggled all preseason, the defense had been pretty solid until Saturday night. With Joe Haden nursing a bit of a foot injury, and Buster Skrine not playing after having surgery on his thumb, the secondary struggled big time. Leon McFadden started opposite rookie Justin Gilbert. Neither will add this to the highlight reel.

Gilbert failed to tackle Chris Givens on a simple crossing route, which led to a 75-yard touchdown catch for the Rams. McFadden was victimized several times, especially on third down where the Browns were not able to get off the field. The Rams converted on third and twelve, twenty-five, eleven and nineteen yards.

[Read more...]

Brian Hoyer named starting QB over Johnny Manziel

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In an email release, the Cleveland Browns have named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback.

From head coach Mike Pettine:

“He was the clear leader from the beginning. We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

The release stated that the coaching staff wanted to name a starter this week to begin building cohesion on the offensive side of the ball.

Pettine also praised the work that Manziel has put into camp and the progress he’s made.

“He’s certainly made great strides. We are pleased with where he is, and he has shown that he has come a long way in his ability to pick up the playbook, be coachable and lead an offense. We are confident that Johnny is going to have a great future, but we just felt that Brian still had a decided edge on him.”

The team was informed at a meeting this morning. No word on how many fingers Manziel used during said meeting.1

[Related: Shanahan blasted in critique of Hoyer and Manziel]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

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Footnotes:

  1. As a side note, it is very interesting that the QB competition story that everyone has been waiting for was basically handed to Vic Carucci to break. Carucci, of course, is employed by the team. []

A closing that may affect your tailgate and a new game review: While We’re Waiting…

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You may not have heard, but the pedestrian bridge under the shoreway will not be open during Browns games this season. That is not good news for those that choose to park south of the stadium.

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My apologies if this already was linked here, but I don’t remember seeing it. I’m likely wrong and someone will let me know it. That’s usually how it works. This piece on Bernie Kosar from Dan Pompei at Sports on Earth is worth a read. You may know most of what is written already. Then again, this tends to be a younger audience here at WFNY. In any case, it is a well written piece and a good reminder of the life of Kosar.

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It seems Kyrie Irving and Team USA were practicing with some of the basketball players at Army and one of the guards stole the ball from Kyrie. Is it more newsworthy if it was a female basketball player or not? I don’t know the rules anymore.

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Some uni-news as always on my day for www…

I love the red/black combo for sports teams and these helmets are top notch in my opinion. Love them.

Last week I showed you the CFL Argonauts uniforms which I liked. This week Winnipeg debuted new uniforms. Um, no thanks.

Not much to really get excited about here. It is an interesting choice that they don’t include the words Ohio State or Buckeyes in the design.

And absolutely awful.

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Finally, I had the chance last week to spend a day and a half at GenCon, which is a board gaming convention in Indianapolis. Never been before and something I wanted to do at least once. I had a chance to see a bunch of new game demos and even play a number of games that I’ve never played before. Picked up a couple as well, so I’ll be doing some reviews in this space for the next few weeks.

Shadows over CamelotFirst up is a game called Shadows Over Camelot. Shadows is not a brand new game by any stretch, but is one I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. Shadows Over Camelot is a cooperative game, but does have the possibility of including a traitor. All the players in the game are Knights of the Round Table. The game has several different quests that players can choose to try and accomplish. A successful quest puts the knights closer to victory. A failed quest gives evil an upper hand.

This is not an easy game to beat. Our group won by the skin of our teeth the second time we played it. In fact, my character had to fall on his sword in order for the whole group to win. So I guess technically I did not share in the victory.

The traitor element did not come into play in the two games we played. I would very much like to try a game in which it did. We all agreed that had there been a traitor in our second game, we never would have survived.

I would highly recommend this game, but it might not be the best family game. Play it with your friends that love Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You will not run short of movie lines to quote during the game.

Pettine declines to name a starter: “Not in position to make it at this time”

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Mike Pettine told the media on Tuesday that the team was not ready to name a starting quarterback yet.

This could mean that the staff decides on a quarterback tonight, informs the team tomorrow morning and then the media in the afternoon. It could also mean that the competition goes on for another week.

So there you have it. No news today Browns fans.

(For the record, technical issues locked a number of us out of the conference call today.)

[Related: Making the case for Manziel and Hoyer to start]

Shanahan blasted in critique of Manziel and Hoyer

Haslam Manziel

Mike Tanier at Sports on Earth gives us his impressions of the quarterback competition based on Monday night’s game this morning. He didn’t hold any punches.

Pettine and his staff must select between a prospect so physically, mentally, and emotionally unready for the NFL that he can’t get through a Sharknado-quality hate-watchable preseason game without flipping the bird on national television, and a 28-year old who has started four games in six years with four teams who cannot deliver accurate passes on shallow crossing routes.

It gets worse.

No ordinary corporate-styled team conference room will do for such a decision. Pettine needs to hold a séance. Or an Irish wake. The choice between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel is the choice between facing inevitable death with incense or Jameson.

Oof. Tanier also takes aim at Manziel’s ability to make something happen with his feet.

Manziel, meanwhile, was helpless. What’s frightening is how slow he looks when running. Redskins linebackers easily tracked him down. Ryan Clark chased him to the sideline on a designed keeper. Clark was too old for the Steelers secondary, where Ike Taylor played with Jack Lambert and fought at Antietam.

A thorough read of the entire piece is required.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Tanier’s comments comes towards the end of the piece when discussing Kyle Shanahan’s responsibility for the mess.

None of the quarterbacks on the field Monday looked fundamentally or mechanically sound. Pettine must be glaring across the decision room at Kyle Shanahan. Son of Shan had two promising young quarterbacks to work with for two years in Washington. One, who arrived as the most athletic and mature can’t-miss quarterback prospect of the last decade, now throws sideline interceptions off his back foot and bruises his inner thigh while scrambling in the open field. The other overthrows everything over the middle while underthrowing the deep sideline.

Oof.

[Related: Making the case for Manziel or Hoyer as the starter]

Browns Preseason Game 2: Winners and Losers

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Oof. Entering Monday night the quarterback competition was really up for grabs, and unfortunately for Browns fans, neither quarterback took the opportunity to win the job.

You know the drill. It’s time for Winners and Losers.

WINNER: Armonty Bryant. The Michael Lombardi seventh-round gamble is having as good a showing in these preseason games as anyone. Bryant earned some time with the starting unit with his performance against the Lions and made the most of his chance on Monday night. He got a sack and put pressure on the QB on at least one other occasion.

WINNER: Phil Taylor and the run defense. Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Billy Winn and John Hughes were all big against the run. Taylor swam and ripped past his blocker on several occasions and just blew up the play. He caused the fumble by Alfred Morris even if he didn’t hit him. And how about the goal-line stand? Morris had four chances from three yards out and the Browns stuffed him. This is not a back that gets stuffed very often. He’s a big back with a low center of gravity—a 224-pound wrecking ball—and the Browns stoned him four times. [Read more...]

Johnny Manziel gives Washington sideline the finger

The money sign isn’t the only hand signal Johnny Football knows.

johnny-manziel-bird

Yep. That’s Manziel giving the finger to the Washington bench.

Rather have it in Vine form? Ok.

Gif from BroBible. Vine from sp0rts.

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Update: From former WFNYer Brendan Porath, Rob McBurnett from the Browns communications team telling Manziel that his finger gesture was captured and flying all over the Internet.

 

Braxton Miller reinjures shoulder, could be out for season according to Dispatch

Braxton Miller

Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting on Monday night that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller hurt his throwing shoulder in practice and could be done for the season.

Miller had shoulder surgery after the season and missed all of spring practice and was still not taking every snap with the starters this summer.

There is your very faint silver lining. Really faint. Like nearly transparent.

J.T. Barrett would be your likely starter when the season opens against Navy on August 30. Barrett is a red-shirt freshman who leaped over Cardale Jones on the depth chart this summer.

Barrett has not taken a snap in a regular season game. Cardale Jones has thrown three passes, with one completion.

Carlos Hyde (NFL) and Braxton Miller (injured) accounted for 2,589 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Miller also threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns. Kenny Guiton (graduated) accounted for another 19 touchdowns last season for the Buckeyes.

[Related: Manziel and Hoyer forget to show up for QB competition in Washington]

Video: Johnny Manziel talks with Jon Gruden on Sunday Conversation

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel sat down to talk with ESPN’s Jon Gruden to discuss Monday’s preseason game against the Redskins and former Kyle Shanahan QB Robert Griffin III. Take a look.

My Williams tribute and new games on the horizon: While We’re Waiting…

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On Tuesday, Andrew shared his thoughts on the passing of Robin Williams. Ordinarily I would shy away from the topic since it was brought up in recently in While We’re Waiting, but not today.

As a boy I remember being fascinated with Robin Williams’ comedy. I was too young and naive to really understand a lot of his subject matter, and I certainly didn’t understand the impact that drugs were having on his performances. All I knew was that he was a ball of energy and you never knew what he was going to do next. His quick wit and improvisation made a big impression on me.

If a life can have a soundtrack to mark time, I believe that movies can do something similar. I was seven years old when I saw Robin Williams in Popeye. At the time, a cartoon that became a live action movie was kind of impossible, but they pulled it off. Williams’ performance of Popeye was so different from anything he’d done to that point, and foreshadowed his ability to dive in and become other characters.

The next Williams movie that made an impact was The Best of Times. I was fully involved in organized football at the time and loved the idea of a team having a reunion game years after the fact to settle an old score. If you haven’t ever seen this movie, give it a shot. It isn’t one of his better known films and the WFNY audience would like it. I’m certain.

The summer before high school came Good Morning Vietnam. This film blended Williams’ true gifts. He was (and my heart sank just now typing was instead of is) a good dramatic actor, and obviously a brilliant comic. The combination made this movie what it is. So many great lines in this movie. Along with movies like Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam helped open the lines of communication between generations about Vietnam. It was a subject never mentioned in my house before.

Dead Poets Society was released while I was in high school, but I didn’t see it until after I had graduated. In fact, I was visiting a good friend from high school at the University of Illinois when we caught a showing at the campus theater. With all due respect to Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets is my favorite Williams role. Anyone who has ever taught has that desire to see a real connection with their students, to know that they truly understand what you are giving them. Williams became the Captain in this film. the circumstances around his death now make this film even more eerie and heartbreaking.

Awakenings was fantastic. Robert DiNero and Williams were tremendous together. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. Inspiring.

A flurry of movies seemed to follow, including Hook, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire and Toys. The Fisher King was the best of this group in my opinion, as a little darker of a movie for Williams. Mrs. Doubtfire was certainly a memorable performance and gave Williams a perfect vehicle for comedy. Toys really missed the mark, and was the first time I remember being disappointed with a Williams movie.

There was a time that I kind of stepped away from Williams’ movies. I’m sure it had more to do with me than Williams. The Birdcage didn’t interest me, and Jumanji-Jack-Flubber all seemed geared towards kids. It wasn’t until Good Will Hunting did Robin’s work grab me again.

I can’t think of anyone anywhere near my age that didn’t like that movie. Certainly that is a testament to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s amazing story and performances as well, but they couldn’t have made a better choice than Williams for his part.

What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man were all movies I saw and enjoyed, but were a little turned off by the reincarnation overtones. Not my belief system, but I certainly would not say you shouldn’t see the movies because of that. Loved Philip Seymour Hoffman in Patch Adams. There’s another sad story from Hollywood.

Night at the Museum, Robots and Happy Feet resonated with me for a completely different reason. I was now a father—Williams was now helping to bring happiness to my daughter’s life as well as mine.

And there will be more. I saw a report that at least three movies with Williams have been filmed and are in post-production, including a Christmas movie.

I’m sure that there will be a moment of grief watching these movies, knowing that Williams is gone. I’m also sure that the grief will go away as Williams applies his craft and brings home laughs once again. Thank you Robin for all the years of entertainment.

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For those interested in some of the board games I talk about in this space, you will want to check this out once it opens.

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The headline here is awesome, as is the video that follows:

“Pennsylvania Sports Anchor Punches Man Who Interrupts Live Shot”

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I like Pat McManamon, but the ‘chances Johnny Manziel starts’ daily chart is ridiculous.

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I get the hatred for OSU in Michigan, but what in the world???

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Toronto Argos uniforms. Love these.

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I will be attending GenCon this week, so I should have a number of new game reviews for this space in the coming weeks. Have a great weekend!

Photo: the Browns’ QB competition just jumped up a notch

This is brilliant.

I mean, we’ve kind of been down this road before trying to turn a pitcher into a quarterback and the results were a little bit Weeden-ish. Then again, when you’ve got the focus and unemotional demeanor of Ivan Drago and a cannon to boot, it might just work. But, you know, he’s a little old at 28 years old. I guess we’ll just keep him with the Indians.

 

Cavaliers sign center Alex Kirk

Alex Kirk

The Cavaliers have been making a splash with free agent signings and visits this summer. This isn’t one of those.

The Cavaliers announced on Monday that they have signed center Alex Kirk to an undisclosed contract. Kirk was with the Cavaliers’ summer league team in Las Vegas averaging 5.2 points on .524 shooting and 3.4 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game.

Kirk went undrafted this year out of New Mexico.

An early entry candidate, the 7-0, 245-pound center went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft after appearing in 101 games (86 starts) over three seasons at the University of New Mexico. He averaged 10.0 points on .488 shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game over his collegiate career, where he was also a two-time All-MWC Defensive Team selection. Last season, he averaged 13.3 points on .490 shooting from the field, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 32.0 minutes per game, while receiving his second All-MWC Defensive Team honor.

The Cavaliers list him as 7-0, 245 pounds. If that is the case, he grew over an inch and lost a little weight since the NBA combine.

NBADraft.net listed Kenny Frease as his NBA comparison. Here’s what they had to say about Kirk-

Strengths: A versatile offensive threat, Kirk averaged a solid 16.6 points per 40 minutes this past season at New Mexico … Can score both inside and out; has a soft right-handed hook shot and a very smooth jumper, with range that extends to the NBA three-point line … Most effective inside 18 feet – according to Hoop–Math.com, Kirk made an impressive 70% of his shots at the rim and a respectable 38% of his 2-point jumpers … Not afraid to put a ball on the floor and drive past slower defenders … Can shoot off the dribble … Sets solid screens and effective on the pick and pop … Good size and length – had the 2nd longest standing reach at the NBA combine at 9 feet and 1.5 inches… Solid rebounder and shot blocker – averaged 10.9 and 3.4 per 40 minutes in those respective categories this past season at New Mexico… A coach’s son, Kirk plays within himself, hustles, is alert, and communicates well on the floor… Good stamina for a true center, averaging 32 min. per game this season for the Lobos.

Weaknesses: Not overly physical on either end of the floor, and as a result, struggles to carve out space underneath the basket … Not much lift – relies on his height and length when rebounding and blocking shots… Does not get many rebounds outside his area … Lack of speed greatly hinders his on-the-ball and help defense … He would fit into the NBA 40 years ago, much better than today’s game, as the game has gone to speed over size for bigmen … When defending the pick and roll, he often does not show strong and gets caught in no man’s land… Not shy about shooting, even when well beyond the college 3-point line. This past season, he made just slightly more than 21% of his threes, a number that would likely be significantly higher if he had better shot selection… Prefers to play in space – not afraid of contact, but sometimes struggles in a crowd… Has difficulty with double teams, frequently forcing up wild shots or committing turnovers … Struggled to stay out of foul trouble against athletic big men, including Joel Embiid (KU) and Khem Birch (UNLV) … Though an underclassmen early entrant, he’ll turn 23 at the end of this year, limiting his potential.

So that gives the Cavaliers Andy Varejao, Brendan Haywood and Kirk listed as centers.

[Related: Simmons- Kevin Love is underrated]

 

Kruger Questions Our Dedication: Training Camp Notes: 08.11.14

Gilbert Skrine

The Browns were back on the practice field Monday morning after an off day Sunday. The offense wore the orange winner’s jerseys for just the second time in camp, presumably for a competition won during Friday’s practice and not the preseason loss to the Lions.

The practice started and stayed outdoors, despite the rain that was heavy at certain points during practice. A security guard quipped that the previous two coaching staffs wouldn’t have even started outside. As Mike Pettine would say after practice, “sometimes it rains”. The staff wanted to see the team handle the less than ideal conditions.

As the team went through warm-ups and position drills at the beginning of practice the skies opened up. The majority of the media (myself included) were under the tents by the entrance to the facility waiting the period out before having to venture into the elements when the team gathered for 11-on-11 work. Veteran Paul Kruger ran back to the locker room for something and joked to the media huddled under the tents that if we were really dedicated, we’d be out in the rain looking for the best vantage point to watch. Fair enough Paul.

The rain slowed and eventually seemed to disappear, though the sun never made an appearance. [Read more...]

Gilbert, Desir and veteran additions give Browns depth in secondary

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Pierre Desir has an incredible backstory. Born in Haiti, Desir found himself a standout athlete with a pregnant girlfriend at age 15. He didn’t back away from his responsibilities, and went to small Lindenwood University while he took care of his wife and family, including working part time jobs that included removing human feces.

Despite being handed life lesson after life lesson, the tall, lanky cornerback has had much to learn coming to the NFL after being selected by the Clevland Browns in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

[Read more...]

Manziel Runs with the Ones: Training Camp Notes 08.06.14

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Johnny Manziel took all the first team reps on Wednesday, even though after practice Mike Pettine announced that Brian Hoyer would start the first preseason game on Saturday against the Lions. During Manziel’s first 11-on-11 session, the team mostly worked the running game, but he did make a few throws including a big gainer to Andrew Hawkins. Manziel also led his unit to a score in 9-on-9 format, connecting again with Hawkins for a big gain on the drive.

Brian Hoyer didn’t exactly shine with the second unit on Wednesday as he threw an interception to end his 9-on-9 series when a low pass bounced off the receiver and landed in K’Waun Williams’ hands. Both quarterbacks were given two series at the end of practice to work an 11-on-11 red zone offense session. The only touchdown of the four series came on Manziel’s first series when he found tight end Jim Dray in the end zone. Hoyer had five completions and only one miss, but his throws were underneath and both drives stalled short of the end zone.

[Read more...]

Craig Ehlo has a powerful story of recovery …While We’re Waiting

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Trent Richardson ladies and gentlemen-

“It doesn’t get to me. A year ago, they were ready to love me. And this year, they are going to love me — I guarantee it,” Richardson said. “From where I was even a few months ago to now, there’s no turning back.”

Hey, I wish no ill on Richardson. I hope he finally is healthy. Call me skeptical about his ability to stay healthy. [Yahoo! Sports]

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Craig Ehlo was addicted to painkillers. He went to jail. Now he is on the road to recovery. Listen to his story here.

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Agree with Dustin Fox, this was the tweet of the day.

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I’m excited to talk about a few new games this week. The first is called Sushi Go. It is a card game in a tin from Gamewright.

It is a drafting game, in which players pick a card from their dealt hand and then pass that hand to the next person. You score points for the different kinds of cards that you play. The cards have a sushi theme obviously, and have a cartoon artwork look to them. It is a fantastic family game for 3-5 players. The box will tell you it is for 2-5 players. It lies. This is not a fun 2 player game.

It is played in three rounds and doesn’t take more than 20 minutes for a game. I highly recommend this one for a quick game or filler. We haven’t played just once since we got it. Usually we play three games when we crack the box lid. If you are an Amazon Prime member and get free shipping, get it through Amazon.

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The second game I played is the Dungeons and Dragons board game Wrath of Ashardalon. To be fair, I am writing this ‘review’ after just one play. I played it over the weekend at a friend’s house.

I was not a big fan of this one. I am not really a fan of D&D to begin with, so perhaps the game had a strike against it from the start. I tried to keep an open mind.

The game board itself is made up of tiles that you add to the board as you explore. I like this mechanic in a game, but with this one all the tiles were just hallways that a monster was going to occupy and you were going to have to kill. You didn’t have to build characters, as the game comes with several and you choose which to play. It is a cooperative game in that you are working together to accomplish the mission and stay alive. There may be an overall winner for the person who kills the most monsters, but we really didn’t concern ourselves with that.

The whole game was really just rolling a 20-sided die to see if you hit the monster or it hit you. There wasn’t even that much variety in the types of monsters that you encountered. At least in the game I played. Not really a fan, but if you like Dungeons and Dragons and don’t have the time to invest in developing characters or making up adventures, this one may be for you.

Bring out the Boxing Gloves: Training Camp Notes 08.05.14

Is that really your question?

Is that really your question?

The Browns’ offense might have had their best day of practice on Tuesday since training camp began. And overall, I’d still say the defense was better.

The team split reps with the quarterbacks again, and Johnny Manziel made a few nice plays. He threw the best ball of camp so far when he found Travis Benjamin streaking down the middle of the field for a 50- or 60-yard bomb. Benjamin had clear separation from rookie Pierre Desir, but dropped the perfect pass from Manziel.

Manziel had an 11-on-11 series with the second team in which he hit on every pass, including a sidearm throw while on the run and an impromptu pass to Gordon stepping up in the pocket.

It wasn’t Hoyer’s best day, but he was still pretty accurate, aside from an overthrow on an out-route that was picked off by Joe Haden. He also executed a heck of a play-fake and found Gordon over the middle.

The story of the day was defensive backs, but not because of interceptions; they were given kick-boxing gloves to wear. The idea behind the gloves is limiting how much movement the players have with their fingers, which keeps them from holding on to receivers. [Read more...]

Second-year guard Garrett Gilkey is preparing to be a starter

Garrett Gilkey

The logo on his shirt is that of a Cleveland Browns dog with a barbell in it’s bared teeth trying to chew through it. Underneath are the words Cleveland Browns Strength.

This image stands in sharp contrast to the smiling man wearing it. Garrett Gilkey is upbeat, polite and doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body. He is in a fight, however. A fight for a starting spot on the Browns offensive line.

[Read more...]