Skip to main content

Training Camp

6 things we learned after 4 days of Cleveland Browns training camp

The sidelines are empty and the fields behind the Browns training facility in Berea are empty.

It's a stark contrast to the previous four days, when more than 12,000 fans packed into the complex to watch the Browns go through their first four training camp practices. The fans and team will be back Tuesday when on-field work resumes. writers Andrew Gribble and Kevin Jones roamed the sidelines for all 10 hours of the Browns' on-field work and delivered their thoughts in daily observations articles.

With some additional time to collect their thoughts, here are six, all-encompassing takeaways from the first four days of practice. Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4


WR Dwayne Bowe is reliable

Nobody would mistake Bowe for a speedster like Andrew Hawkins or Taylor Gabriel. But Bowe's body positioning and long strides have thrown Cleveland's defensive backs for a loop early in camp. He's been open consistently and his hands rank near the top of the unit. A consistently dangerous Bowe would do wonders for this offense in the regular season.

Rookies will truly have to earn their stripes

Danny Shelton, Cameron Erving and Nate Orchard have yet to crack a first-team rotation. The trio of players is expected to be the team's building blocks for years to come, and they've shown their skills in training camp. The story here is the level of competition has heightened so much that veteran players such as Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, John Greco and Barkevious Mingo are making them earn their spot.

Mike Pettine continues to keep it fresh

Whether it's the new motto "Words Into Action", the digital-camouflage practice jerseys or the unique halftime kicking competition that will debut at the Orange and Brown scrimmage Friday, Pettine understands the grind and monotony that is training camp – and he's effectively spiced things up.

Photos from Day 4 of Browns Training Camp


Travis Benjamin standing out as a WR

Pettine admitted he didn't know what he had out of Benjamin, particularly when it came to wide receiver, at the start of training camp last year. Benjamin was coming off a serious knee injury and was "on the bubble." Fast forward one year later, and Benjamin has looked as comfortable as any receiver through the first four days of practice. He's caught numerous short and intermediate passes with the first-team offense and remains one of the best deep threats because of his speed. He's also one of three who appear to be competing for punt returner, a spot at which he struggled during stretches last season. "What's encouraging this year is if you talk to him and ask him, 'Hey, how do you feel compared to a year ago?' it's night and day," Pettine said Sunday. "And that's usually true with that type of injury that it takes to that next year to really feel back to being your old self."

No matter how much depth you build, injuries can still hurt

The Browns are a deeper team than they were last year. That belief is unanimous across the building after an offseason in which that very aspect of the roster was emphasized. Still, football is a physical sport and injuries happen. When they happen in bunches, like the Browns experienced Saturday when defensive end Billy Winn and running backs Duke Johnson Jr. and Terrance West left the field with respective injuries, they can shake things up in a hurry -- no matter how deep you are. Winn will be monitored week to week and the injuries to Johnson Jr. and West are of the day-to-day variety, but they're enough to prompt the question Pettine received Sunday. Will the Browns need to scour the market for another running back simply to fill the lineup at practice? That was likely the top point of discussion when Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer met after practice.

The talk of TEs/RBs/FBs catching more passes wasn't lip service

Gary Barnidge across the middle. Malcolm Johnson out of the backfield. Isaiah Crowell near the goal line for a touchdown. These types of pass plays have been a staple of the first four days of Browns training camp and lend to the belief that John DeFilippo's offense will get the traditional tight ends, running backs and fullbacks more involved in the passing game. Barnidge, in particular, has been a popular target for Josh McCown and he helped the offense win the end of Sunday's practice with a reception of 30 yards. It's early, but it's probably a safe bet the Browns will get more than 86 receptions, 1,048 yards and four touchdowns from this group of pass catchers in 2015.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content