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Training Camp

5 observations of the Browns offense at Monday's practice with Bills

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Day 1, from an on-field perspective, is in the books for those of us who write about the Browns, but it's far from over for the players.

Meetings will be followed by a walk-through, and Day 2 will bring about a reverse of the schedule. The Browns and Bills will be back at it Tuesday evening at St. John Fisher College.

Here's our look at what the Browns offense accomplished.

1) 3 WRs stand out in one-on-ones

In their first competitive drill against the Bills, the Browns had more incompletions than completions against a confident Buffalo secondary. At one point, Bills defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson instructed his group to eliminate some of the chatter.

Still, there were some positives for the Browns to take away from the drill, which was quarterbacked by Josh McCown and Thaddeus Lewis. Travis Benjamin, who has as been as consistent as anyone since the start of training camp, caught almost every pass thrown his way. The same went for Josh Lenz, who consistently beat his man across the middle, and Taylor Gabriel, who caught a couple of deep passes and also drew pass interference on one of the throws he wasn't able to catch. Brian Hartline also showed some good hands in tight coverage.

"Me and McCown were exactly on the right page," Benjamin said. "We just wanted to come out today against Buffalo and compete."

This period was one of the more entertaining and engaging of the day, as the hundreds of fans cheered and groaned with each repetition.

2) Slow start, solid finish

The first 11-on-11 session didn't result in much for the Browns offense, as the Bills broke through for a sack on the first play and limited Cleveland to little else. Johnny Manziel completed a couple of short passes but nothing that would have moved the chains. The session ended abruptly when Bills linebacker Ty Powell went down with an injury Bills coach Rex Ryan fears could be a torn ACL.

"The Bills defense I thought had the upper hand," Pettine said. "I think some of our guys had different tempos. They have to understand the guy across from them is going at game-type speed, other than the live tackling part. We were inconsistent with our expectancy of what we were getting from the other side. I thought (Buffalo) did a good job. We made some plays.

"Unfortunately I thought some of the self-inflicted stuff that we have been able to avoid a lot at camp; jumping off-sides, two bad snaps that likely would have been positive would have been disastrous as a part of a drive. Very much looking forward to getting back and seeing what it looks like on the film."

The second get-together was much more productive, as McCown hit Gabriel and Benjamin on long touchdown passes and the running game made some bigger holes for Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. In the red zone portion of the drill, Manziel completed back-to-back short touchdown passes to tight end Rob Housler and wide receiver Darius Jennings.

"It was good to get a feel of it and we'll make some adjustments," McCown said. "It's different than a game when you might not play that division opponent for three or four more weeks or six more weeks or ever again, some teams for a while. We'll make our adjustments and come out and play. It's kind of like baseball."

3) Rookie watch

Offensive lineman Cameron Erving, who played at left tackle in Thursday's preseason opener against Washington, played mostly with the second-team offensive line at right guard. He filled in for Joe Thomas on a few snaps with the first-team offensive line at left tackle.

Wide receiver Vince Mayle made a tough catch during a one-on-one drill that forced him to the ground. He was also on the receiving end of a bullet pass from Manziel during 7-on-7s, as Mayle fully extended to pluck the ball out of the air after getting a step or two on his defender. He rotated in with the ones near the end of practice.

Tight end E.J. Bibbs was on the receiving end of a couple of passes early in practice and got some work with the first-team offense during seven-on-sevens, another big step forward for the undrafted rookie who continues to impress.

"A lot of guys doubt themselves when they don't get drafted," Bibbs said Saturday. "That is not me. I just like working hard. My dad always taught me that. Just trying to go out there and make plays."

4) Play of the day

Gabriel's speed was tough for the Bills defensive backs to handle even when he simply running down the sidelines. On the Browns' longest offensive play of the day, Gabriel shook his defender enough to generate at least 10 yards of space by the time he reached the end zone. McCown hit him in stride on one of the last non-red zone, 11-on-11 plays of practice.

5) Other observations

  • Logistics of the setup at St. John Fisher College made navigating the practice field a bit tricky. The majority of practice saw the teams working on two separate fields that were separated by grandstands, making any eavesdropping onto the other field virtually impossible. Because of their inability to be in two places at once, Pettine and Ryan will be seeing a lot of today's practice for the first time when they review the film. Pettine primarily watched the offense.
  • WR Marlon Moore, RB Shaun Draughn and FB Malcolm Johnson wore non-contact jerseys throughout the practice. Draughn and Johnson were not used for 11-on-11 drills.
  • RB Duke Johnson (hamstring) did not practice. OL Andrew McDonald returned.
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