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Fresh Takes from Training Camp

Fresh Takes: Browns Training Camp Observations - Day 2

The Browns worked through Day 2 of training camp under a few periods of rain, a few periods of sunshine and 12 periods of practice.

Here's what we learned from the second day of camp in Berea.

1. Mayfield, offense continue to zip

Baker Mayfield had some noticeable pace and accuracy to his passes on the first day of practice Wednesday, and that trend continued in a big way Thursday on Day 2.

Mayfield was perfect in all his seven-on-seven throws, most of which were of the shorter variety. Almost all receivers were involved in reps with him, too, although it's worth noting WR Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) was not a participant and had a scheduled day off as part of his rehab.

Solid plays from the offense are a bit easier to find without players in pads, so any excitement must be kept to a minimum. But it's clear early that the offensive starters have benefitted from the continuity of last season.

"I think it is going to make us even better at our bread and butter stuff. I think we have to have a true identity rolling into this year where we can grow as the season goes on," Mayfield said before practice. "You do not want to peak early. You want to be good, but you want to continue to get better each week. I think that continuity is going to help us with that."

Plenty of work lies ahead as the offense continues its methodic digging into a playbook that has a few minor tweaks from a year ago. The crisp start to camp, however, is a sign that Mayfield embraced having a full second offseason with head coach Kevin Stefanski, who fully expects Mayfield to improve from last year as his comfort in his offensive system grows even further.

"Without a doubt," Stefanski said. "It manifests itself in the meeting room, just understanding what you are doing, getting out here, breaking the huddle and going through reads. It really comes in a bunch of different areas."

Check out photos from the second day of Browns Camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus

2. DPJ targets continue

Donovan Peoples-Jones made arguably the most impressive play of training camp thus far Wednesday when he made a leaping catch on a deep floater and tumbled to the ground — in addition to making a few other routine catches throughout the day.

On Thursday, the targets continued to come for Peoples-Jones, and he made the most of them all. Some of the targets could be by design, while others could simply be a testament to his ability to get open early in camp.

The Browns believe Peoples-Jones can take a big leap this year. After making 14 receptions for 304 yards and two touchdowns — including his game-winning touchdown in Week 8 and a 75-yard score in Week 13 — Peoples-Jones has a chance to widen his role in the offense with a good camp.

"Donovan did a nice job for us last year as a rookie," Stefanski said. "You saw his role grow throughout the course of the season. A very intelligent football, and we knew that from the jump with him. He could line up everywhere and do his job. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do, as he grows and gets more comfortable with what we are doing."

3. Walker assumes on-field play-calling duties

Stefanski confirmed Thursday that LB Anthony Walker and the other Browns' linebackers have been given on-field play-calling duties for the 2021 season.

Walker was a strong candidate for the role after becoming one of the biggest leaders on the Indianapolis Colts in his first four NFL seasons. He was the defense's play-caller last year, too, and he made the most of his every-down responsibilities by tallying 92 tackles and adding another year of evidence as one of the most consistent tacklers in the league. He'll be the man barking orders and moving players around on the defense this season, and it's evident that he has already gained full trust from players and coaches.

"Anthony as a MIKE linebacker, you have heard us say he gets everybody lined up, and you have to be vocal and you have to know what you are talking about," Stefanski said. "You have to be both loud and demonstrative in how you do it, but you better know what you are saying, as well. Think back to (LB) Jacob Phillips doing it last year, which was a big deal for a young football player to have that much understanding of our scheme to do that. Anthony fits that bill, as well."

4. Here and There

- WR Rashard Higgins was sidelined Thursday after rolling an ankle on Day 1. Stefanski said Higgins "should be fine."
- Beckham, WR JoJo Natson, S Grant Delpit and OT Chris Hubbard were all sidelined, too, on scheduled days off for their rehab. RB D'Ernest Johnson was not on the field for a second day due to personal reasons.
- CB Troy Hill and S Richard LeCounte III missed practice due to an illness.
- CB Greedy Williams was back in full capacity Thursday after he left the field with trainers early on Day 1 due to heat-related reasons. WR Derrick Willies returned to the field after missing the first day of training camp as he recovers from an offseason knee procedure.
- Friday's practice will welcome fans into the bleachers for the first time since 2019. Practice is expected to begin at 2:25 p.m., and gates will open at 1:25 p.m.

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