- The first day of the last phase of offseason workouts was a spirited one for coach Hue Jackson and the Browns.
Cleveland kicked off mandatory veteran minicamp Tuesday as it prepares for a brief summer break before training camp. "The guys are excited," Jackson said after the session. "I thought that the guys came out with a lot of energy and did some really good things."
Following a winless season, optimism abounds in Berea after a head-spinning offseason in which the Browns added veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and free safety Damarious Randall among other notable free agents and high-profile NFL Draft picks in rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward.
Jackson, asked about a new-look roster poised to help turn around the organization, said, "We still have to play the game, we still have got a lot of work to do."
"It's just fun to be around the guys and to watch them run around and work—watch things start to happen the way that they should offensively, defensively and with special teams," he continued. "Again, I think that I have a really good staff. There are some good players out there and I think that they're working hard."
- Jackson said veteran linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. (knee), Mychal Kendricks (ankle) and rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway (groin) likely won't practice this week as they recover from previous injuries. Collins is recovering from surgery he underwent following a midseason knee injury; Kendricks, whom the Browns signed last week, had ankle surgery in March; Callaway, a fourth-round pick from Florida, is dealing with a groin injury.
The Browns hold practice on the first day of veteran minicamp.
- After locking up running back Duke Johnson Jr. to a three-year extension, Jackson expects bigger and better things for one of the Browns' top playmakers. "Duke has done some great things for our offensive football team," he said. "We expect him to do even more this year."
Johnson led the team with 1,041 all-purpose yards last season. An elusive and explosive weapon in both the pass and run games, he became the first back to amass at least 500 yards in each of his first three seasons since Herschel Walker. "I think Duke is just a playmaker," Jackson said. "I think he can run with the ball … Obviously, his trait has been catching and he has caught it as well as anybody. He gives you that versatility to where you can put Duke in at a lot of places."
- Earlier in the day, Browns receivers Landry and Josh Gordon — considered two of the league's best at what they do — believe Cleveland's wideouts can be among the nation's elite position groups. Jackson, presented with that information, also expressed optimism and cautioned the Browns will have to back up such bold statements on the field.
"I'm just excited about the group we have. They have a chance, if they work and get into great shape," he said. "As I mentioned earlier, to be good and in order to be great, you have to do it on game day, week in and week out. If they do that, then we'll talk about that at another time."
- After missing organized team activities, tackle Donald Stephenson was again absent for the first day of minicamp. Jackson said the team will fine the veteran in alignment with NFL rules, which require players to be in attendance. Jackson, who declined to outline the specifics of Stephenson's situation, said "that will come to a head pretty soon." The Browns added Stephenson in free agency.