- The Browns officially welcomed veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks to his first practice with the team Tuesday after making his signing official earlier in the day. Kendricks, who is two months removed from ankle surgery, worked off to the side with a handful of injured Browns during the first part of practice and watched from the sidelines when the players went through 11-on-11 drills.
Browns coach Hue Jackson said the team would work Kendricks, who spent the previous six seasons with the Eagles, into the swing of things at a gradual pace. Kendricks said he was “ready to go” but said there was no need to push himself at this point in the offseason.
“I wanted to slowly ease him into this,” Jackson said. “Obviously, I think that there is still a little bit of ankle soreness. I do not want to push him too far too fast. But we will get him up and running here soon.”
Jackson said the team was in no position to turn down a player with the kind of talent and experience like Kendricks, who won a Super Bowl this past season and has been a regular starter from Day 1 of his NFL career. The former second-round selection out of California can play all three linebacker positions within a 4-3 and is likely to begin in the middle behind Pro Bowler Joe Schobert.
“It is called competition, right? That is what it is. It is competition,” Jackson said. “I think that our players get it. Our job is to put the best football players on the team, then let that take care of itself. There is nothing wrong with that. I think that our guys welcome that. I do not think that anybody is upset because we put better football players on the team.”
- A handful of other Browns were also off to the side Tuesday as they dealt with a variety of injuries. Of note, rookies Antonio Callaway and Chad Thomas were dealing with groin injuries while Jamie Collins Sr. (knee) and Emmanuel Ogbah (toe) continued to rehab injuries that short-circuited their 2017 season.
“You have these young guys that come into your system and they start practicing. We practice a little bit different, we kind of go. That is different. Their bodies have not done that like this at that time,” Jackson said. “We will work through those things, but I am glad that they are happening now so that we can get them out of the way and get these guys back, whether it is minicamp or training camp and get them going.”
- First-round cornerback Denzel Ward worked with the first-team defense on a number of occasions Tuesday after beginning OTAs with the second group. Ward’s teammates and Jackson have been impressed with how he’s handled the adjustment to the NFL, and his elevation was well-earned.
“He is working at it. He is doing good things,” Jackson said. “He plays a position that we think we have been needing a guy to step up. We have been seeing some things of him improving each and every day, and doing the things that we are asking. He needs to continue to do that to continue to be out there. We know that he is very talented, that is why we drafted him. He has displayed that since he has been here.”
- When reporters got their first look at rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield two weeks ago, the No. 1 overall pick had an up and down practice. Asked about that day in particular, and whether or not it was reflective of his overall performance since the start of OTAs, Mayfield made it clear he hadn’t forgotten about the sluggish early session.
“I don’t think I’d be here if that was a typical day of work, just to be honest with you,” Mayfield said. “I hold myself to a higher standard. That was definitely one of the worst days I’ve had. I’ve had a couple more bad ones but it’s not going to be perfect. That’s why we’re here practicing and that’s why it’s only the beginning of June. I’ve got some time to learn and keep growing.”
- Mayfield, meanwhile, spent more of Tuesday’s practice working with the second-team offense than he has in previous sessions. Veteran Drew Stanton took the repetitions with the third-team group.
Jackson said Mayfield’s number of repetitions didn’t change and that Tuesday’s move shouldn’t be overanalyzed.
“I just mixed it up. There is nothing behind that,” Jackson said. “I just think that I want to keep tinkering with that a little bit. I made that decision this week, with the staff, to make him second and get some reps there. That is just going to go as we go. There is nothing to it, nobody should read anything into it. It is an opportunity to go out there a little sooner than he has, that is all.”