Five things to know from the Browns’ organized team activity practice on Wednesday afternoon…
- Linebacker Jamie Collins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in November, returned to practice this week, participating in individual drills. Head coach Hue Jackson said the team hopes to expand his load in mandatory minicamp, but be careful along the way.
“We’re going to take it slow because we need him full-go in training camp,” Jackson said. “But he’s definitely making the progress he needs to make.” Collins, who played six games in 2017, enters his third season with the Browns after three years with the New England Patriots.
- Jackson said there’s a “calmness in our locker room” as wide receiver Josh Gordon makes his first OTA appearance since he took over as head coach in 2016. “He’s in there and we truly know he’s going to be a part of what we do from Day 1,” Jackson said.
Gordon, who returned from a three-year suspension last season, is participating in offseason workouts for the first time since 2014 after being sidelined for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. All signs, however, point toward Gordon playing a big role going forward. “We need to continue to keep that going in that direction,” Jackson said. “He’s done a great job. Again, credit goes to him, because he has to do the work and that’s what he’s doing.”
Players participate in OTAs on Wednesday.
- Beloved former Browns left tackle and future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas was at Wednesday's practice helping coach up the team’s offensive linemen. Cleveland is still in the process of identifying his heir with third-year tackle Shon Coleman, new addition and veteran Donald Stephenson and rookie Austin Corbett in the mix to fill those shoes. Still, there’s only so much to evaluate in non-contact practices, Jackson said. “We’ll know more about that position once we get into training camp.” Thomas, who retired in March after 11 seasons, was named to 10 Pro Bowls.
- The Browns drafted former Ohio State star cornerback Denzel Ward to give their defense a premier defender in the secondary. Ward, the fourth-overall pick, flashed that kind of talent Wednesday, including a pass breakup in the end zone against the bigger Gordon. “He’s talented and every day he’s getting better,” Jackson said, “and the more he competes with Josh and (Jarvis) (Landry and (Corey Coleman) and the rest of our crew the better he’s going to be … the speed of the game isn’t too big for him, the stage isn't too big for him.” Ward, a Macedonia native, was an All-American with the Buckeyes and is expected to compete for a starting job.
- Third-year wide receiver Corey Coleman is approaching a potentially pivotal season after two disappointing, injury-affected seasons. The 15th overall pick in 2016, Coleman has been limited by multiple hand injuries and struggled to produce on a consistent basis. In Cleveland’s season finale against the Steelers last year, he dropped a late pass on fourth down that would’ve given the Browns a chance to win their first and only game of the season.
“I think the biggest thing for Corey is that he has been out here every day. He has been dependable. He has been dependable and accountable," Jackson said of the former Baylor star. "He's working at it each and every day. I think for Corey, and this is Year 3, he wants to take the next step in his development. He's working. He's getting to know the quarterbacks, all of them, as best as he can. I think that's all you can do at this point. I think that the real test will be once we go to training camp and really get into the season. He's got to continue to get better and work at his craft, and I think that he will do that.”