The Browns practiced without pads Saturday in preparation for a grueling two days in Pittsford, N.Y., with the Buffalo Bills.
But there were still some heavy news items that developed throughout the day.
1) *WR Terrelle Pryor returns to the practice field*
When Pryor first announced his position switch and signed with the Browns, one of his best friends couldn't contain his excitement. Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown invited Pryor to come work out with him and Randy Moss in Pittsburgh, anxious to see how his buddy would transition to the new digs.
"At first I didn't expect you to be pretty decent at it," Pryor recalled Brown saying when he spoke with reporters after Saturday's practice.
But the quick-twitch muscles that are involved with playing receiver eventually caught up with Pryor. After a month straight of grinding with Brown, Moss and Josh Gordon in Charlotte, Pryor had a hamstring injury flare up during training camp. The Browns training staff decided to hold the 26-year-old out of practice for more than a week. As a result, his legs were able to recover from his busy summer workouts.
The clock is ticking for Pryor, though. Missing the Orange and Brown scrimmage and preseason game against the Redskins means the coaching staff is lacking ample film to grade his play. While Pryor looks smooth in practice, Cleveland wants to see results in an actual game.
"He is not guaranteed a spot, but I also wouldn't write him off," coach Mike Pettine said. "He is still in-between. That sense of urgency now is ramped up. It is a tighter window to see it. We are certainly not going to hand him a spot based on potential. He has to show us. What he has showed us so far has been encouraging."
Pryor said he feels like the strong suit of his game are his reliable hands and he's been working closely with cornerback Tramon Williams on how to use his strength in beating press coverage on the line of scrimmage.
"It's really at the top of the routes," Pryor said. "Being a little savvy. You'll see (Brian) Hartline turn his head one way and then go back the other way. That's something I can learn and I'll keep on watching the older guys."
Pettine has said it all along: Pryor looks the part. Now, the Browns need to see him perform all week long and Thursday night on ESPN against the Bills.
"I want to be great for the Browns," Pryor said.
2) *Jamie Meder enters the 53-man roster discussion*
As we detailed in our running game article, the Browns were stout in stopping the Redskins on handoffs up the middle. A large part of that had to do with Meder and undrafted rookie Dylan Wynn.
Meder, a Parma Heights native, impressed the coaching staff Week 17 last season against the Ravens as a run-stopping defensive tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-3, 295-pounder was the highest rated Browns player against Washington. The coaching staff has mentioned how Meder can use his hands violently to throw offensive linemen off their spots.
"As far as Jamie is concerned, he's shown up, he's definitely going to be in the discussion," Pettine said. "He's having a good camp."
What this really does is intensify things for Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Billy Winn and other veteran rotational defensive linemen. Jousting for spots is a real thing in August. One thing us for sure: general manager Ray Farmer will have his pick of the litter in this deep room.
3) *Browns taking a train to Rochester*
There are usually only two trips when the club doesn't fly on it's United chartered airplane: bus trips to Pittsburgh and Detroit. But with the peculiar setting of Pittsford, a suburb outside of Rochester, the Browns will take a train for the first time in several years.
"I've taken the train before having been in Baltimore and been in New York, going down the I-95 corridor on the train," Pettine said. "To me, it's the best way to go. It's an airplane minus being way above the ground and having people search your bags.
"It's better than a bus, you can relax. Coaches can get a lot of work done. We'll load tomorrow's practice on to our tablets and be able to work on the train. It's just much more relaxed way to travel."
4) *FB Malcolm Johnson returns to the practice field*
Before Johnson aggravated his shoulder, the argument can be made Johnson was one of the strongest rookies in training camp – even right alongside Danny Shelton. Cleveland uses Johnson on a bevy of short routes that make linebackers keep their antennas up at all times.
Johnson returned to the field this week but has been wearing a red, non-contact jersey.
"There's no substitute though for being out there, it's good," Pettine said. Flip's (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) glad because that gets him back into some of those fullback personnel groupings . He did a little bit with tight ends and he can actually use Malcolm, the way that the original plan was."
5) *Other notes*
- Joe Thomas (leg), Billy Winn (ankle) and Luke Lundy (concussion) also returned to practice. RB Duke Johnson Jr. (hamstring) did light, on-field work for the first time since Aug. 1.
- Tight end E.J. Bibbs has already started carving out a strong relationship with Pettine, calling him a "father figure." More on Bibbs soon.
- Practice ended with a punt fielding competition between the linebackers and tight ends for the jersey competition. Some of the punts off the machine were spraying all over the place, creating commotion between players and fans. Tight end Gary Barnidge sealed the deal with a diving catch.