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3 things to watch during mandatory minicamp

The entire roster will be back in Berea for three days of practice, which will be the final tune-ups until training camp begins in July


Three of the most important days on the NFL offseason calendar begin for the Browns this week with mandatory minicamp, which begins on Tuesday and will be the only time until training camp where every player is back on the practice field.

The Browns have been conducting practices for the last two weeks under organized team activities, but those were voluntary and didn't include the whole roster. That changes in minicamp, although players will still be padless and practice intensity will be fairly light.

But it's always exciting when the full team is back together, and we're breaking down three things to watch as the Browns reach the end of their offseason program.

1. Watson works with full receiver brass

QB Deshaun Watson has already taken plenty of reps this spring with some of the Browns' new additions in Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin, and those appeared to pay off in the open practice to the media last week when Goodwin caught a couple deep ball passes for touchdowns.

Now, Watson has a chance to continue building rapport with everyone. That includes TE David Njoku and possibly WR Amari Cooper, who did individual drills last week in his first practice since undergoing core muscle surgery early in the offseason. It's no certainty, however, that Cooper will be ready to practice in team drills.

Every passing drill Watson spends with a full receiving crew will be crucial toward growing his chemistry with each receiver, so expect the Browns to continue squeezing a large number of pass plays into their practice scripts.

Check out the action from practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as the Browns go through organized team activities

2. First look at refurbished D-Line

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will have his first chance of playing with several of the new weapons the Browns acquired to bolster their defense.

DE Za'Darius Smith and DT Dalvin Tomlinson are perhaps the most notable new players to watch on defense, but with padless practices, it'll be most interesting to see which combinations Schwartz chooses to deploy them up front. The same can be said for other new players, such as DE Ogbo Okoronkwo, DTs Maurice Hurst and Trysten Hill and the rookies — DT Siaki Ika and DE Isaiah McGuire.

And while we're on the defense, one other important thing to watch will be who plays slot cornerback. Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II have both played at the position so far in open practices, and Schwartz has said he'll continue to look to rotate players at the position in order to build a versatile defense.

3. Cade kicks

Second-year kicker Cade York didn't kick in a team-drill setting during the two open OTAs, and we'll likely see him in action at some point this week.

New special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone said last week he's worked closely with York on improving from last season, when York converted on 24 of 32 (75 percent) field-goal attempts in what was an up-and-down rookie season. Minicamp will offer York a chance to show those improvements.

"Every player, every season, every situation is different, especially for a rookie," Ventrone said. "You come into and you're not kicking in an easy environment. The crowd, obviously, the weather conditions, just being at a different level overall. I think that a lot of things factor into it.

"I think he's done a good job and he's learned from a lot of his mishaps from last year and where he needs to be corrected on. So I think that having that understanding, you see some things on film that you want to be able to correct, and I think that's what we're trying to do right now."

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