Amidst this non-stop draft talk, the Cleveland Browns actually took the field last week. Granted, it was just veterans and there was not contact during the practices – but it was still a time for football. Spring is the part of year that typically yields optimism for the organization and its fans. In continuing with that theme, let’s review a few highlights from those practices.
Brian Hoyer looks healthy:
Breezing through individual drills and seven on seven competitions, the veteran signal caller appears to have healed up from his torn knee ligaments from last season. Although he was held out of full team drills (eleven against eleven), it was still good to hear that his rehabilitation is continuing along smoothly. Will the Browns draft a quarterback in the first round of the draft? That’s the heavy favorite, but it will not deter the incumbent from competing for the starting gig. In this franchise’s history, at least two different guys will be under center during the regular season (and usually more). Playing the odds, Brian Hoyer will see significant playing time in 2014; his health is critical if the team wants some sort of stability at the position.
Donte Whitner oozes confidence:
Following the week of practices Whitner uttered this, “I believe we have a jump on a lot of teams in the National Football League. They don’t know exactly what offense or what defense we are going to run.” While this is true, Whitner and his teammates must make sure they have the defense memorized to the minute detail and can give opponents frustration. They anticipate to be active – meaning they will move around and change on a moment’s notice. I, for one, am excited after listening to this; but as with every season, the Browns will have to prove it out on the field in the fall. As far as the offense goes, the quarterback will dictate a large amount of their success (I know, that’s the understatement of understatements).
Pettine coaches differently:
Continuing with uplifting news for Browns’ fans, the approval rating of the head coach appears to be extremely high right now. Players support his fast-paced approach, where athletes “finish the play” and run to the end zone with the ball following every single snap. In hoping the team will be well conditioned, Pettine will make all practices difficult – so the actual competition seems easier by comparison. Once again, the proof will be in the pudding, but if the coach actually can get the most from his team by making practices demanding – perhaps the team can have some sort of success.
Conclusion: The was not a whole lot to take away from mini-camp practices for the Cleveland Browns, however there is a sense of excitement and optimism. Following the draft, rookies will have to get acclimated to this organization as a whole – including coaches, systems, and the environment. But if they can successfully do that, and the veterans provide leadership, Browns’ fans might finally have something to cheer about.