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Steady improvement shown in OTAs

Posted May 27, 2010

Second-year Browns receiver Brian Robiskie and linebacker David Veikune are getting rave reviews for their efforts during Organized Team Activities.

 

Progress can be measured in a lot of ways and one of those is the improvement of players in terms of how they practice.

Though he has seen improvement from a lot of his players, two that stand out to Browns coach Eric Mangini during the Organized Team Activities are second-year wide receiver Brian Robiskie and veteran tight end Benjamin Watson.

“I thought so far, Brian Robiskie has had an outstanding camp,” Mangini said Thursday. “He’s shown up quite a bit. Ben Watson has been doing a really nice job with the things that we’re asking him to do. There’s a lot of guys I’ve been happy with, especially when you consider it’s a new environment. It is a lot of new material, but it’s been fun to watch the progression as we go.

“I think it’s a lot like quite a few of the younger guys,” he added. “It’s not, ‘Where I am’; it’s not ‘What am I doing?’ You can start to develop it more and play faster because you’re not thinking and processing. He (Robiskie) ran good routes and made some big plays pretty much every day.”

After a solid career at The Ohio State University, Robiskie made just 7 catches for 105 yards, an average of 15.1 yards-per-catch, during his rookie season. Meanwhile, his fellow second-round draft pick, Mohamed Massaquoi, caught 34 balls for 624 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2009.

“There is no one formula for these guys,” said Mangini. “You try a lot of different things to get them to contribute as quickly as possible. We spend a lot of time with the rookies to help do that, but it sometimes hits in different spots.

“It’s not defined by one year; it’s defined by a body of work,” he continued. “I’ve coached a lot of guys that had to play right away that shouldn’t have played and sometimes, that can be detrimental too, because their confidence gets shot.”

Second-year linebacker David Veikune has also made strides throughout the OTAs, helping to anchor the middle of the 3-4 defensive scheme.

“David has gotten a lot of reps working inside and I think he’s looked better,” said Mangini. “All those guys have shown some real positive things early on and we have a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see.

“That’s what we’ll do, have him focus in on that area,” he added about Veikune playing inside linebacker. “I have to keep reminding myself and the coaches, it’s hard for these guys. The young guys are going through what all those guys went through. What I look for from the group of second-year guys is to help the new guys get through the process.”

Veikune was a defensive end at the University of Hawaii and made the switch to linebacker after being selected by the Browns in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent Training Camp working at both the outside and inside linebacker spots.

“With end conversions, you don’t know where the best spots are going to be,” Mangini said. “Sometimes, those guys are better outside and that’s where they naturally fit. With a guy like Marcus Benard, it made sense. Sometimes, guys have the flexibility to do a couple different spots. You go through a trial-and-error to figure out what’s the best spot for him, what’s the best spot for us.”

COLD WEATHER CHAMPIONSHIP EMBRACED

With the NFL’s decision earlier this week to play the 2014 Super Bowl in the New York/New Jersey area, it means the game’s ultimate stage will be held in a cold-weather, outdoor stadium after years of playing either at indoor facilities or in warm-weather cities.

Mangini, a Hartford, Connecticut native and a coach who has spent his entire career in the cold-weather cities of Cleveland, Baltimore, Foxboro, Massachusetts and New York, is looking forward to seeing an outdoor Super Bowl in the elements.

“I really like it,” said Mangini. “I’d like it even more if we were playing in it. We’re all going to be able to see how it goes in New York, but I think it’s exciting to have the elements. Elements play such a huge part during the regular season; they play such a huge part during the postseason depending on where the game’s located. To mix that in, I think it’s great.”

HARRISON IN TOWN, PRACTICING

Though he had some personal business to take care of and missed Thursday’s practice session, running back Jerome Harrison was in town earlier this week and took part in the OTAs.

Harrison is a restricted free agent who has not yet signed his tender.

“He was here at the start of this week,” said Mangini. “He was on the field. He hasn’t signed his tender, but there’s another way you can do it. I haven’t talked to Matt (Thomas) and Tom (Heckert Jr.), but he’s allowed to practice and participate and he has been for the previous two days.

“I think it’s good for everybody to be here,” he added. “This is the second round of install and it helps the players when you go to camp and it helps us when you go to camp because there are some new things; there are some different things. When you come in and you’re not overwhelmed by information, it gives them the best chance to put their true picture of what they can do forward.”

MANGINI FEELS FOR BROWN

Earlier this week, the Cleveland Cavaliers let go of their head coach, Mike Brown, after back-to-back 60-win seasons and multiple trips to the postseason, including a run to the 2007 NBA Finals.

Mangini appreciated Brown’s efforts in Cleveland and knows how hard it is to work for a championship.

“I like Mike Brown and I sent him a text the other day,” said Mangini. “I can relate to the things he’s going through and it’s difficult. I really hope things work out for him and I really hope things work out for the Cavs as well. I like Danny Ferry a lot and although it sometimes happens, ideally, you just want to see everybody move forward in a positive way.

“It’s a passionate town,” he added. “You get it though and you understand and you appreciate it. Believe me, you’re consumed with trying to achieve what we all want to achieve. It would be amazing, fantastic and deserved.”