The Cleveland Browns continued with their offseason workout schedule on Tuesday with an organized team activity session at the team’s Berea training facility.
Tuesday’s practice was the team’s seventh OTA over the last four weeks. The Browns conclude the offseason program with three more OTA sessions Wednesday through Friday. Following the OTAs, players will next be on the field for the beginning of training camp at the end of July.
“We’ve got three more of these and then, the structured teamwork prior to training camp will be completed and they, of course, will continue to fine-tune their conditioning throughout the summer,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said following practice Tuesday. “The rookies will be here for a couple more weeks, through their symposium and we’ll get after it.”
Prior to the start of Tuesday’s OTA session, Shurmur and the Browns players had been away from the practice field since last Thursday’s conclusion of minicamp in Berea. Considering the time off between practices, Shurmur took several notes from Tuesday’s session.
“I thought there was good work out there today coming back off of a four-day weekend,” Shurmur said. “I thought it was a little bit sloppy. The effort was great, but I think they would all agree with me that there were some areas where we could get better. I think they practiced hard; they practiced smart and I was pleased with what they tried to get done. We’ll come out tomorrow and get one day better.
“I just think there was a lesson in there and it’s when you come back, to get the motor running again and get back on point and being detailed. I wouldn’t say it was a bad practice. There were just areas where we could’ve played better.”
Looking back on his first season as a head coach last year, Shurmur said “all the positions have improved” from this time a year ago and the “new guys” have done a “good job” of quickly catching onto the offensive and defensive schemes.
“I do feel like the players that were here a year ago, to a man, understand much more in detail what we want to get done system-wise,” Shurmur said. “I think it’s a credit to them because they’ve devoted and committed so much time to this offseason. I think the rookies, in the years I’ve been doing this, have done an excellent job of getting up to speed, so they can come to training camp and function at a high level. Those two broad views of our team are what I’m taking away.”
Shurmur also said that while the players look better and understand more of the details, he feels comfortable in his second year as the head coach.
“I feel better about what we’re getting ready to do because I know our team much better,” Shurmur said. “I know our coaches much better and I feel more ready to do what we’ve got to do. Now, we’ve just got to go out and do it.”
IT’S A BATTLE
When a player gets added to an NFL roster, there is something he has either shown to coaches on game tapes or through individual workouts at the NFL’s annual Scouting Combine or on a Pro Day. All of those players have to compete for their spots on the field, as well as playing time.
“For all the players and if you’re a new player, you’re fighting to be a starter and if you can’t be a starter, you’re fighting to be a role player,” Shurmur said. “Somewhere in there, if you’re young enough that we want to develop you further, then, you’re fighting to either make the end of the roster or the practice squad. I think that’s the very real part of the competition.”
A FAMILIAR TARGET
Cooper was an undrafted rookie free agent signing by the Browns as the team prepared for its rookie minicamp last month.
“I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen from him,” Shurmur said of Cooper. “I think he generally gets it. He understands how to uncover in the slot area and there’s something to that because you’re surrounded by lots of guys. To understand leverage and how to get open, I think that’s a skill and a talent. He catches the ball well and once he catches the ball, he understands how to get yardage. Those are all attributes that are important to a receiver.”