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Training Camp

5 observations from Day 4 of Cleveland Browns training camp

While the digital-camouflage jerseys were the talk of Day 4, there were some meaningful happenings on the football field at Sunday's Browns training camp practice.

In addition, the players will be off Monday. 

1)Pierre Desir is turning heads at cornerback **

So far this summer, Desir has been busy proving his productive start last December against the Panthers wasn't a fluke. With Tramon Williams receiving a customary day of veteran rest, Desir took most of the repetitions on the opposite side of Joe Haden as the No. 2 cornerback. Desir's length and physicality are glaring, but it's been the 6-foot-2 cornerback's recovery speed and instincts that have shown rapid improvements. Receivers are having an extremely tough time getting open on Desir.

"Pierre is very passionate about football and he wants to get better," coach Mike Pettine said.

By no means does this mean Desir is challenging Williams for the starting spot, secondary coach Jeff Hafley said. In fact, Desir must continue to play at this level to be considered for repetitions in certain packages.

"Why was Pierre out there today? Because he earned it," Hafley said. "And that's how we are going to be. Whoever earns it is going to be who goes out."

2)Injury update**

The Browns received positive news on X-Rays of defensive lineman Billy Winn's ankle and deemed the injury a sprain. He will be re-evaluated next week.

As for running backs Terrance West and Duke Johnson Jr.?

"Duke could be (out) a little bit," Pettine said. "We are confident we can get Terrance back, especially just kind of butted up against the day off, so we feel coming back out on our next day out here on Tuesday that Terrance will have a shot then."

Reserve running back Luke Lundy also was nicked up with a concussion on Sunday. While Isaiah Crowell and Shaun Draughn are reliable backs, the Browns did not rule out Cleveland scoping the free agent market for another ball carrier. Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer will meet later in the day to further discuss personnel.

3)Johnny Manziel comfortable out of the shotgun **

The back-and-forth between the offense and defense has been real four days into camp. The offense clicked together Sunday, especially with Manziel and the second-team offense passing game.

More than any time we've seen, Manziel lined up in the shotgun. It was clear the 22-year-old quarterback could see the field better. Hesitation on his reads were almost non-existent and several passes were laser-beams completed for big chunk gains.

"Obviously he is very comfortable there," Pettine said.

Pettine explained that the Browns weren't just throwing Manziel in the shotgun because he was having success. Spread passing was a big part of the installation Sunday for Josh McCown, Thaddeus Lewis and Connor Shaw, too. 

Still, it's been established offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is flexible to adjust play calls to fit certain players. Manziel's success in the shotgun will be something to monitor in the preseason.

4)Karlos Dansby and Paul Kruger dominate a running back drill**

An early chunk of practice Sunday was dedicated to a 9-on-9 running backs drill against the defense (wide receivers and cornerbacks weren't on the field). It was here where adjustments to the run defense jumped off the page.

Paul Kruger and Karlos Dansby barked out audibles to the defense and other defenders tapped their helmets and re-shuffled all over the line. On the first play, Dansby shot up the middle and wrapped up Draughn. Two plays later, Kruger shot between two defensive linemen to stop Crowell. Clear communication between the different position groups has been emphasized to the defense, and it's working.

The sequence had defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil giddy, while other assistants were yelling out praise for defensive linemen Armonty Bryant and John Hughes for fulfilling their assignments. When drills like these are perfected in August, it can go a long way later in the season.

5)Other news and notes**

  • Hafley raved about a package at Saturday's practice in which the Browns used three safeties – Tashaun Gipson, Donte Whitner and Jordan Poyer.
  • "What it does is it creates a lot of versatility in the scheme," Hafley said. "It creates confusion and it really gives us an advantage. We can do so many things – blitz this guy, cover this guy, put this guy deep. It just opens up a lot of calls."
  • Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips also met with reporters, and as you might have guessed, fielded plenty of questions about Terrelle Pryor.
  • "When we signed him I thought, 'how willing is he to be a receiver?' And he's all in," Phillips said. "The guy is staying to be taught the techniques, there isn't a lot of teaching and the good thing on my behalf is that he knows the system, he played in the system with Flip."

Photos from Day 4 of Browns Training Camp

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