Andrew Berry donned a gray Browns performance shirt and orange shorts and tennis shoes as he cracked a smile and walked to the podium beside the practice fields Friday afternoon at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus.
Berry, entering his second season as Executive Vice President and GM of the Browns, had plenty to smile about as he conducted his first in-person interview with the media since the 2020 scouting combine. The Browns were about to begin their third training camp practice and first that included fans, hundreds of which were waiting for entry to the bleachers on the other side of the facility.
Berry has helped assemble the Browns to win at the highest level, and the Browns believe they can deliver on it, but Berry knows there's still plenty of work to be done in order to meet the goal.
"As long as our guys are working out with our staff, really focusing on what they can control, and improving every day, I think we will look up and we will be in a really good spot," Berry said. "I think we have the right individuals in this locker room. I know that we have the right individuals on the sideline. All we are going to do is put our head down and work and we will figure it out from there."
Check out photos from the third day of Browns Camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus
The heavy work started Wednesday, when the Browns conducted their first team practice of training camp. Unlike last year, when several coaches were introduced to each other with video calls rather than handshakes, the Browns have continuity on their side. Only a few introductions were needed, which has helped the team make a seamless transition into preparations for 2021.
The effects of the continuity have certainly been felt most on the offense, where all 11 primary starters and nearly every coach from 2020 was retained. As a result, fourth-year quarterback Baker Mayfield has begun training camp with a noticeable groove to his throws and command to the huddle. Incompletions have been low, and he didn't throw an interception until a tipped ball led to a pick in Friday's practice.
Stefanski noted Mayfield's comfort Thursday. Berry echoed those sentiments Friday.
"I think Baker has entered with a phenomenal mindset and a ton of comfort," Berry said. "I know we are all very excited for him to have a bit of stability because it's probably like all of us in our jobs, right? Where if you are doing something repetitively, or you have a little bit of a foundation from prior experience, it just makes you that much more confident and that is something that we certainly noticed."
Berry's biggest offseason projects, of course, were completed on the defense, where new starters could be listed at nearly every position for Week 1. The safeties now include John Johnson III, Ronnie Harrison Jr. and Grant Delpit. The cornerbacks consist of Denzel Ward, Troy Hill, Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome II. At defensive end, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney present a QB nightmare.
The Browns have overloaded several defensive positions with top-tier talent and young players who could potentially play their way into that category. That's perhaps the biggest reason why they're among the favorites to play into February, and Berry believes the Browns' depth is well-equipped to handle the grind of the newly-implemented 17-game regular season.
"I would tell you that you can never have enough talent," Berry said. "Whether it is through changes for players throughout their career, injuries or you name it, the kind of your needs today are not necessarily your needs tomorrow. For us, I do not think the approach really changes based on where we are with our team's life cycle. We are always looking for good players and good people."
The future for Berry, however, will still be full of difficult decisions.
Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward and other veteran players are nearing the end of their current contracts. All three of those players, though, are well-positioned for big seasons, which could boost their value even further.
Berry has never offered any hints on what lies ahead in the future when it comes to contract negotiations, and that didn't change Friday — but he did reiterate that he will do whatever is in the best interests of the team.
"At the end of the day, our job as a front office is to make sure that we can be as competitive as possible in the present year and competitive as often as possible over time," he said.
"I don't know that I view that we are in any type of unique circumstance in that regard, but it is obviously something that we are mindful of."
For now, Berry and the Browns are enjoying what they have right now. The offense is ready to take another leap after a successful 2020 season, and the defense is ready to prove it's strong enough to show Cleveland has one of the most complete rosters in the league.
The situation couldn't be much better from the GM's desk, and Berry is ready to take it all in.
"It is why we got in the business," he said. "I know that we have a personnel department that takes an enormous amount of pride in terms of bringing the most talented individuals and people who fit our smart, tough and accountable mold, ultimately with the goal of getting the best team possible."