On Saturday, August 1, the Browns held their first training camp practice that was open to the public. There were almost 3,000 fans in attendance to show their loyal support to a new era in Browns football. The Browns have a new owner, new GM, and new coach, along with many other new faces.
The Browns have upgraded their practice facility along with changes to the gameday experience for their fans. Change is good, but the only thing that matters is the product on the field and whether the Browns will turn into a winning and competitive team. Here are my top 5 takeaways from the first week of training camp:
1. QB Brandon Weeden’s improvement
Weeden struggled on the first day of camp with some of the passing drills on not making quick decisions. Sometimes Weeden will hesitate before throwing the ball, which often leads to trouble. For the Browns to be competitive and win games, Weeden will have to take a big step in his sophomore season and prove to the coaching staff that he is the quarterback of the future. Weeden is now in an offense that fits his style of throwing the ball downfield and being accustomed to more of a shotgun set.
2. Rookie OLB Barkevious Mingo
There have been many questions regarding Mingo’s size and whether he is big enough to play LB in the NFL. However, his speed is above average and he has been putting it on display at Browns training camp. Mingo has been exceptionally quick off the ball and on multiple occasions, he has run past blockers before they could fully set up in pass protection. Mingo has shown so far that he could be a dominant pass rusher in the Browns 3-4 attack style defense.
3. Dion Lewis pushes for a role
The small, but explosive RB Dion Lewis, has had a pretty impressive training camp thus far. Lewis was acquired from the Eagles in an offseason trade and the shifty RB has grabbed the attention of teammates and coaches with his runs and catches. With each practice, it becomes increasingly evident the Browns have to give strong consideration to finding a role for him. Lewis could be a nice complement to Trent Richardson on third down plays and could also help the Browns in special teams by returning kicks.
4. RB Trent Richardson injury woes
Richardson is doubtful for the first preseason game vs. the Rams on Thursday. He is battling another shin injury that kept him out of Friday and Saturday’s practices. It would be more of a precautionary move keeping Richardson out of the preseason game, but fans have reasons to be worried. Richardson missed time in June due to a muscle strain in the same shin and he battled most of last year with broken ribs. Richardson is one of the few offensive weapons for the offense and they can’t afford him to miss any time.
5. Jordan Norwood flashes
WR Jordan Norwood is making sure he doesn’t get overlooked by coaches. Thus far, Norwood has done a good job of getting open and possessing the ball. Top receiver Josh Gordon is suspended the first two games of the year because of failing a drug test and the Browns need someone to step up and grab the fifth or sixth receiver spot depending on how many they will keep.
There has been a lot of energy in the first week of Browns training camp with a lot of new changes. The Browns will play their first preseason game on Thursday vs. the Rams.