Today was a big day in Berea with the commissioner in town for a special youth “Heads Up” promotion aimed at teaching football fundamentals to help avoid head injuries. After participating in that, Goodell entered the media scrum to avoid answering much of anything about Jimmy Haslam. It wasn’t at all surprising that Goodell refused to play the “What if?” game with regards to the word “indictment.” Also when asked if the NFL could have known or done better vetting for the Pilot Flying J troubles, the commissioner spoke of just how big a surprise it was for everyone and that the NFL continues to monitor the situation.
Goodell wasn’t the only big name in camp today in Berea. National sideline reporter Pam Oliver was on hand to see what the Browns have going on, as was Peter King. King made the rounds on radio row and spent a good amount of time filming a M.M.Q.B. segment with Browns’ first round draft pick Barkevious Mingo. Now, for the actual football stuff…
Today was a day where I really noticed the defense. Those guys are handcuffed a lot in the larger scrimmage-type drills because they can’t do a lot of hitting, but when the defensive line went against the offensive line in individual drills, it was explosive. Phil Taylor pushed opposing offensive linemen (I believe Alex Mack twice) after multiple plays. Brian Sanford was also involved in at least one scrum. The drills were “spirited” and very different from anything I’ve seen the previous two years in camp Shurmur / Jauron.
The biggest standout for me was easily John Hughes. Hughes is an obviously powerful guy, but he’s nasty with his hands too, shedding blocks and creating space. He then uses that space to either bull rush or speed underneath offensive linemen. He was really fun to watch.
It’s important to be wary of some of the things you see in camp too. Travis Benjamin is a rockstar sprinting all over and grabbing everything, especially balls underneath and over the middle. But, the thing to remember is just how many big hits guys can take over the middle. At least two times today I saw the battery of Weeden and Benjamin connect on passes that might have gotten the speedy receiver clobbered had it been live action against a real opponent. Benjamin is young and there could be a growing pain or two, not to mention a potential injury.
– Josh Gordon was back on the field in limited action after dealing with some tendinitis in his knee previously.
– T.J. Ward sat out with some tightness in his hamstring.
– Montario Hardesty was also out as the guys after Trent Richardson continued to show off.
– Quentin Groves might end up being one of the more efficient signings in recent years if he plays reasonably well. The guy has infectious energy as a reserve and appears earmarked for some key contributions on special teams. Previous knowledge of Ray Horton’s system doesn’t hurt either. The 29-year-old second round pick was signed for two years and less than $2.5 million total this off-season.