With a new position and fresh outlook, Cameron Erving is poised to play a key role for the Browns next season after an offseason of growth.
"I feel like I've come a long way but there's still miles to go," he said Wednesday before the team's second day of mandatory veteran minicamp. "I definitely feel comfortable at it and that's what I'm putting all of my efforts into right now, just being the best player and best center I can be."
Erving has seemed to find his niche at center, a position he played for five games while at Florida State. And though that experience has lent itself as a useful tool, Erving is focused on mastering the details and nuances of such a role after a rookie season of ups and downs.
"I feel like I'm settling in, I feel like I'm doing a good job with just familiarizing myself with the position and making sure that I handle everything that I need to handle as a professional, as a teammate and as a man," he said.
Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III said Erving is "picking it up pretty quickly … it's been a great transition, I'm really happy with him as our center."
Erving, the 2015 first-round draft pick, has logged a great many hours on and off the field as the Browns near the end of their offseason workout program.
From visiting schools around Northeast Ohio to accompanying an Elyria teenager to her senior prom, Erving said "I feel like I'm more of myself than I've ever been since I've been here."
"I kind of got out of doing the things that made me, you know, me. In college I did a lot of things with outreach and last year I was just so focused on just football and I didn't really get a chance to give back and I didn't put myself in a position to be in the community as much as I have lately," he said.
"It's very rewarding and it also gives you a different level of focus, and it gives you a perspective on life."
The Browns took to the field for the first day of the mandatory veterans' minicamp.
On the field, Erving said he learned a great deal from former Browns center Alex Mack, who parted ways with the team during free agency in March.
"Most of it was his professionalism. The guys on the offensive line, they all show a great level of professionalism and they bring a great energy into work each day," he said.
"I always saw Alex work hard and the extra work he put in when everybody else wasn't here. I might not have always understood what he was doing or why he was doing it but in hindsight I see why, I see why he did what he did because that's why he's as good as he is."
Against that backdrop, Erving said he's focused on polishing his technique and "making sure I'm in the right position, body position."
"I'm not going to keep going back to last year," he said, "but that's where I feel like I've made the most strides, just being more technically sound and being in the right position to make good blocks."
The Browns, who have said they intend to be a smash-mouth, run-oriented offense with first-year coach Hue Jackson at the helm, could count on Erving and the likes of Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and up-and-coming right guard Joel Bitonio to lead that charge.
"I just want to be a nasty player, I'm a nice guy, but at the same time when I step on the field, it's time to play ball, it's time to get a mean streak," he said.
"I feel like that's one of the reasons I was drafted to the Browns because they saw I had that. I'm just going to be mean, nasty and physical."
But first, you'll find Erving taking care of the finer points of playing center.