Maseratis, Moose, chameleons and Brad Paisley.
We’re recapping Episode 3 of “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns,” and by doing so, we’ll be providing plenty of spoilers.
Today’s halftime show entertainment comes courtesy of the Glenn Miller Band.
-- The story of two wide receivers and their respective arrivals to the Browns facility in Berea served as the dominant theme of this week’s episode. And for both, as we write tonight, the ending has not yet been written.
-- For Josh Gordon, it was his return from a nearly month-long leave of absence that kept him away from training camp. As the Browns warm up for their preseason tilt against the Bills, Gordon is shown picking up his luggage at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. “The bird,” as Hue Jackson described Gordon, “had landed.” It appears Gordon got in his first workout with Browns director of strength and conditioning Larry Jackson as the team closed out a 19-17 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium.
-- And then there’s Dez Bryant, who made his highly anticipated free agent visit to Berea this past Thursday. Bryant, the former Cowboys star receiver who had the most touchdown catches of any receiver from 2012-17 -- thank you, Intern 2 -- certainly made the rounds. The visit seemingly culminated with a one-on-one visit with Jackson. Bryant tells Jackson he’s “looking for realness.” Jackson admits “the last two seasons have been hell” but pitches to Bryant that the Browns are on the rise and “it’s going to take guys like you who love to compete … that’s the kind of guys I’m looking for.”
-- Paisley’s visit to Berea dominates the first part of the episode. The country star fell in love with the Browns during the Kardiac Kid era and got a little bit of everything -- including an invite to the QBs RV -- in his practice visit. In a conversation with general manager John Dorsey, Paisley says Baker Mayfield reminds him a little bit of Brett Favre. Dorsey’s not quite there yet. “I can see why people say it because of the mannerisms, but you’ve got to earn the respect,” Dorsey said.
-- A moment between Dorsey and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith provides another reason to believe the Browns are heading in the right direction. Highsmith, who spent the previous 19 years with the Packers, tells Dorsey there are characteristics of this year’s Browns that remind him of the Cowboys of the late 80s and early 90s. “I see a lot of similarities. I see a lot of the same energy. I see a lot of the same little issues,” Highsmith said. “You know what, these players are going to overcome them.” Highsmith appeared in seven games for the Cowboys in 1990.
-- The spotlight shined brightly on the one-in-a-million personality of Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie in this week’s episode. The 26-year NFL coaching veteran is a part-time magician, drives a spotless white Maserati, provides bold opinions about stretching and shows his group videos of rhinoceroses and gorillas -- animals he believes would thrive as offensive linemen.
-- The “Hard Knocks” cameras had the scuffle between Jarvis Landry and Terrance Mitchell covered from all angles. In the moments afterward, veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey talks to a still-simmering Landry. “We’ve got to be smart,” Kirksey says.
-- Three players fighting for spots on the 53-man roster or practice squad -- Nate Orchard, Devon Cajuste and Brogan Roback -- get plenty of attention throughout the episode, and “Hard Knocks” does a great job of showing what they’re like away from the field. Cajuste tells fans to consider his autograph an “investment” and gets stiff-armed by the health-conscious Seth DeValve when he offers him one of his aunt’s famous inside-out Oreos. Orchard has a sweet tooth, too, as we learn his wife Maegan’s cookie recipe has fetched triple-digit offers. Roback, meanwhile, takes a trip to Cleveland Botanical Garden, feeds a chameleon his lunch and discusses the potential nutritional value of butterflies.
-- Landry’s tenacity as a blocker raises some eyebrows during a run-dominant drive -- as predicted by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- to start Cleveland’s preseason game against the Bills. “I ain’t scared of nothing,” Landry said. “I don’t want to be liked by nobody.
-- After a touchdown pass of his was nullified for a second time on the night, Mayfield begs for Haley to draw up a quarterback draw when the Browns face a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Browns play-caller opts for a power run for Nick Chubb -- something Mayfield said he saw all too much of during their college days -- and it turns out to be just what the team needed.
-- Jackson’s post-game message to the team centered on his frustration with lack of discipline and penalties. The Browns have committed 20 penalties in the preseason, many of which have been untimely drive extenders for the defense and drive killers for the offense. “We’ve got to learn how to protect our house,” Jackson said.