Just like that, open sessions to the 2019 Cleveland Browns training camp are over. While that means that camp is slowly coming to an end and the kickoff to the regular season is quickly approaching, the Browns still have plenty of work to do, both in terms of improving as a team and trying to figure out who some of their starters will be Week 1. Fans may no longer be able to attend camp, but there is still plenty of things to keep track of in the weeks ahead.
“We still have some spots that need to be earned and won,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said after Wednesday’s practice. “If you are trying to win a spot, you have to also say that there are some spots that can be lost. At the end of the day, we have four practices and two games left now. The sense of urgency with everybody surrounding the organization needs to increase. I think it has to a certain extent.”
Before the Browns take off for Tampa Bay for their game against the Buccaneers in Week 3 of the preseason Friday night, let’s catch up on what took place during the last open camp session Wednesday morning:
1. After it was on hiatus for a couple of days, the 6-to-13 highlight reel is back. This time, it features a one-handed catch by Odell Beckham Jr.
2. He may not even make the 53-man roster due to the crowded wide receivers room, but the Browns signed wide receiver Braxton Miller Tuesday morning. The former Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver couldn’t be happier, at least right now. A native of Huber Heights, he is about as close to home as possible while he is still in the NFL, an opportunity that he just couldn’t pass up.
“It felt good. I feel like I am home,” Miller said. “It is good to be out there with new teammates. They brought me in like I was here already. I went out there and had fun just playing football.
“I did have a couple of choices. I think this fell in my lap, and this is one I really wanted to go to. Being closer to my son and my family and being able to play for my home state, that is one of the things I always wanted to do. I am just happy to be here.”
Miller’s locker is right next to Jaelen Strong’s. The two were teammates on the Houston Texans in 2016 and part of 2017. Strong, who has had a very strong camp and will likely make the 53-man roster, is already helping Miller learn the playbook.
3. From the moment camp started a few weeks ago, Baker Mayfield has looked a bit bigger, but in a good way. Set to enter Year 2, the quarterback seemed to have put on some weight in order to look more solid. While he wouldn’t mention his exact weight, Mayfield confirmed that he did in fact put on some weight during the offseason.
“It is a better weight,” he said. “I feel like I cleaned my diet up. Just being able to treat this offseason and come into this year not having to do combine training and be able to focus on football-related things. I feel good. As long as I am still able to move around, if I can add a little muscle mass to protect myself, that is good.”
4. So yeah, about the kicking competition that seems like it will go on forever. The Chronicle-Telegram and Medina Gazette’s Scott Petrak mistakenly said that Austin Corbett made a field goal rather than Austin Seibert. One’s an offensive lineman, the other is a kicker.
#Browns Austin Corbett just made 49-yard FG to end drive. Baker Mayfield stood about 3 feet away.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) August 21, 2019
While many assumed that he messed up and mistakenly put Corbett instead of Seibert, there were a handful of people that thought that maybe, just maybe, Corbett did in fact kick (and make) the field goal. While he has been quite/. a disappointment entering Year 2, the fact that some questioned whether an offensive lineman was kicking field goals or not tells you all you need to know about the competition between Seibert and Greg Joseph. It’s not good, folks.
5. In their final open practice of camp, the Browns took the field without pads on for the first time in almost a week and a half. Kitchens has repeatedly stated that he wants his players to wear pads as much as possible throughout camp but on Wednesday, he took it easy a bit.
6. With a very impressive camp that featured two interceptions in the preseason opener against the Washington Redskins, linebacker Mack Wilson was awarded the Maurice Bassett Award on Wednesday, given annually to the team’s top rookie in training camp. It’s very well deserved.
Mayfield (2018), Myles Garrett (2017), and Christian Kirksey (2017) have each won the award the last three years. I’d say that’s some impressive company Wilson is joining.
7. The third preseason game is usually the dress rehearsal for the regular season, with many of the starters playing quite a bit before the majority of starters sit out Week 4 of the preseason. For the Browns, Kitchens has made it known that playing time will be determined on a player-by-player basis.
“No, it is going to be a player-by-player basis. A certain player may need something different than another player. We try to make everybody feel special,” he said.
“It is not a secret. We are going to play our guys some. I do not know how long yet. We have had a good camp. It has been a good, physical camp. These guys have embraced the fact that they feel like they have been doing some things that probably other teams have not been doing. It does not matter until you start playing the games. I recognize that.
“I recognize the fact that what we do two days before a game in the preseason even and understand how that can affect someone’s body. More so than anything else, that is why I have approached training camp the way that we did. I like to get our work done right now in a controlled environment to see how much better we can get on a day-in and day-out basis. This week is a little different because you are definitely not going to do it next week. We will see. Some of it factors in on how guys are feeling – little nicks and bumps that they may have because they have nicks and bumps. We have had a physical camp. You just have to factor all those things in and then make a determination. I am really not trying to avoid the question. It is just that I do not have all the answers yet because I do not know. A guy can feel totally different on Friday than he did Wednesday.”
Mayfield wants to play the entire first half but knows that it’s up to Kitchens in the end.
8. Last but certainly not least, Kitchens thanked the fans for being so supportive throughout all 15 open practices during camp. The Dawg Pound is loyal and with so many expectations for the 2019 Browns, the fans showed up in full force, with 42,190 fans attending all of the practices (2,813 fans per practice).
“I just want to start by thanking our fans,” Kitchens said. “This was the last day that they come out. We tried to get as many open practices as we could. The support was tremendous as you guys probably can tell. We never lacked of any fans being out, and I think the last day was just as many as the first. It was really special.”