During the 2012 offseason, Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur has enjoyed a luxury that was not afforded to him or any of the National Football League’s 31 other teams in 2011: the existence of an offseason.
Due to a labor dispute, there were no minicamps, organized teammates or workout programs in 2011. Once the collective bargaining agreement was ratified by both the owners and NFL Players Association in July, teams headed into an abbreviated free agency period and then, straight to training camp.
One of the newest Browns, defensive lineman
“Everyone’s working hard and we’re trying to bring home a champion, so we’re putting it together,” Rucker said. “We’ve been there working hard every day of the week and we just got our draft picks in. They’re all looking good and the team’s forming.”
Second-year defensive back
He described the offseason as being “really good” for him as an individual and the team as a whole.
“Right now, we’re just learning, picking it back up, learning our defensive plays, getting back in shape, lifting and all that,” Hagg said. “It’s recovery, but also getting better for the season coming up. Because I was a rookie last year, it’s slowing down a little bit. I’m starting to pick up things. I’m starting to learn the defense a little bit more. We’ve got a little bit more time because, after the lockout, we didn’t have too much time. It’s more time in there watching more film, critiquing yourself and getting better.”
Nine of the Browns’ 11 draft picks have been signed and are taking part in the offseason workouts. In years past, draft picks might wait until camp was underway before signing their contracts.
However, with the new wage scale in place, many of the rookies in the 2012 class will have the unique benefit of competing in a full offseason before heading into training camp.
“It’s always a good thing if no one’s holding out of camp because you’re missing an opportunity to get reps and being familiar with your teammates and the whole team thing,” Rucker said. “Everyone’s getting in and we’re already almost done locking everyone down. I think they’ll take care of it and we’ll be on our way.”
Hagg says having the rookies in this early is “a lot better” than what he went through and sees it as something that will help the players and teams.
“I know they’re in a better position for themselves because when we got thrown in, we were thrown in and had to know what to do right then and there,” Hagg said. “Now, they get a chance to get to know what they’re doing. They can pick it up a lot more when camp comes around, so they’ll have an idea of what they need to do.”