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Cleveland Browns rookie minicamp: Notes and Quotes

Posted May 17, 2014

Camp is full of passionate competitors

Five of the Browns’ rookies addressed the media Saturday following minicamp. Linebacker Christian Kirksey was excused to attend his graduation at Iowa.

Justin Gilbert

  • Gilbert and Joe Haden have chatted already, mainly about different coverages. Gilbert told reporters he needs work on his press-man skills.
  • It’s the second time Gilbert has said this so it’s worth noting: he loves how Johnny Manziel embraces pressure. Not to say that Gilbert doesn’t, but it’ll make the transition of being a rookie much easier. “I think [Johnny] made the people in Cleveland love me a little bit more once we got him,” Gilbert said with a laugh.
  • Expect to see Gilbert on special teams early in his career. And not just kick returns, where he set a Big 12 record with six touchdowns. If it means getting on the field, Gilbert doesn’t mind covering punts and kicks. We’ll get a sense for his usage more on Wednesday during OTA’s.
  • Gilbert and fellow cornerback Pierre Desir are roommates at the team hotel.

Johnny Manziel

  • On Friday, #WreckThisLeague started trending on Twitter, a quote from a text Manziel reportedly sent to Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. Manziel clarified he didn’t mean it like he would come in as a rookie and light the NFL on fire, but eventually he wants to be that kind of player. Manziel’s sets high standards for himself, which is a reason why the Browns chose him. “I don’t want to come in and be mediocre.”
  • Manziel has been so focused on learning the playbook he’s been logged off of all his social media accounts. So far in Cleveland, he’s barely been anywhere but the team facility and his hotel. But people in the building, his family and friends have relayed the Browns’ fans excitement for their new quarterback.
  • “I’m a rookie. I need to earn my place. I need to earn my keep. Nothing here needs to be handed to me. I don’t need to be treated based off of what I’ve done in the past,” Manziel said. This guy gets it.
  • Manziel watched the Browns last year and says they were much better than they were in 2012. “There are Pro Bowlers on the field. You have guys that are playing a lot better and playing a lot harder. They are tired of losing.”

Joel Bitonio

  • Bitonio answered one of the biggest questions of the minicamp: he will be playing guard. During practices, he’s lined up on both the right and left side.
  • “We’re ready to go. We’re trying hard to catch up to the older guys who have been in the system a few more weeks than us,” said Bitonio. The Browns talked about drafting competitive guys. He’s certainly one of them. 
  • Bitonio specifically mentioned Joe Thomas and Alex Mack by name as players who have been working with him in the meeting rooms.

Terrance West

  • West is an honest and candid guy. When asked about if the media is overhyping Manziel Mania, West said no. “Johnny Manziel is special. He makes plays. That’s what you want on your team.”
  • The Ravens texted West’s agent and told him they were going to take the running back with the 99th pick, which speaks to the craftiness of general manager Ray Farmer. The Browns snuck in and plucked the Baltimore product.
  • “We can be powerful,” said West on the combination he and Ben Tate could form.
  • “Some of the greatest players to ever play the game came from small schools,” West said about coming from Towson.

Pierre Desir

  • The biggest adjustment for Desir will be the speed of all the other players. He knows this. “The coaches taught me some techniques that will help.”
  • There has not been any discussion about Desir moving to safety, a position he’s never played before in his life. He’s not opposed to anything, though.
Desir soaked up the locker room on his first day with the Browns. He took pictures and reflected on his long journey to the NFL, a must-read story we will have tomorrow on ClevelandBrowns.com

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