Fresh Takes from Training Camp

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Fresh Takes: Observations from Day 10 of Browns training camp

We're back in Berea after a day at the stadium and a day off, and well, some of Monday's session looked more like those on the field were still mentally in Sunday than on between the lines.

That didn't last too long, thanks to some key plays made by starters and reserves alike.

Here are our observations from Day 10 of #BrownsCamp.

1. Willies makes the play of camp

Mack Wilson owned this title -- best play of camp -- thanks to an incredible diving interception and return for a touchdown. And he enjoyed the throne for a whole three days.

Derrick Willies ran a streak late in a practice that was ho-hum at best up to this point, and Baker Mayfield decided to let one fly. The quarterback fired a strike to Willies, who was closely covered by T.J. Carrie, and it couldn't have been placed better.

Willies looked over his shoulder and stretched his arm out at the perfect time, hauling in a pass that awed the fans in attendance and crashing to the end zone grass.

The play was such an accomplishment, the normally reserved Willies stood and immediately punted the ball in celebration -- or out of frustration, depending on who you ask.

“Probably a combination," head coach Freddie Kitchens said. "That was a competitive period and when you have success, I want them to show emotion. If you cannot be passionate about the game, you do not need to be playing it. Now, as long as he is in the end zone. If he had punted it at the one, that would be a different conversation.”

The play had an air of improvisation to it, being that Mayfield paused before loading and firing. But improvised or not, it was still a fantastic sight.

"He threw it a little late so it ended up being a little improvisation," Kitchens said. "Is that a word? Anyways, Derrick made a great play on the ball. It was two great players making a play."

It's the latest and greatest play made by a player whose stock has skyrocketed through this camp. Willies even had a good day Saturday in a session that showed more promise in his route-running than his playmaking. One would be hard-pressed to find a bad practice for Willies, who looks more and more like he's in good position to make this team.

Check out photos from the tenth day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey

2. Kush gets the nod again

Eric Kush got the start at right guard for the second straight practice, though Saturday's rotation wasn't quite as firm as a traditional practice, with more play-by-play rotation at the position than usual. He received all of the first-team reps Monday.

Does that mean he has the lead in the battle for right guard? Not quite.

“It is still a competition," Kitchens said. "I am looking for somebody to step up. I told all three of them that I looking for somebody to step up. We are almost two weeks in now. Somebody needs to start separating themselves.”

Perhaps Kush's insertion is intended to motivate the others involved in the competition for the starting right guard job (Austin Corbett, Kyle Kalis). His play, in my opinion, warranted another day with the first team, but the difference isn't sizable.

Kitchens seemed to agree.

“Yeah, we will see if he can string some days together,” Kitchens said of Kush.

Maybe we'll have a clearer picture of this battle by week's end.

3. Veterans flying around

In a practice that lacked the pep of previous sessions (perhaps the day off went by too quickly), a couple of defensive veterans brought the juice while the starting defensive line spent the practice on the sideline.

Cornerback Terrance Mitchell continues to make plays all over the field, no matter which group he's playing with, and it appears at this point as if he's almost forcing his way into a starting role. At one point Monday, Mitchell played the slot corner and nearly intercepted a quick pass to a receiver running a curl. Mitchell has elevated his play since Greedy Williams started seeing first-team reps and gives the Browns another solid option at the position, which is, of course, a good thing.

Ray-Ray Armstrong was also seemingly involved on every play Monday, frequently arriving at what would have been a point of impact had they been fully tackling. A.J. Ouellette was spared at least twice by Armstrong pulling up at the last moment. Twice it was such a good opportunity for a big hit, Armstrong jogged past while squealing at the possibilities.

His veteran presence has helped the younger linebackers (Sione Takitaki and Wilson) progress, something to which Wilson attested Monday. His own play might just create a key role on this defense.

4. Toughness spreading

A key tenet in Kitchens' first camp is toughness. His players are in pads daily, hit plenty and practices don't end early because the coach wants to breed toughness in his players.

They'll need it come fall. It appears to be taking hold in some players at least, based on Monday's efforts.

Jarvis Landry appeared to tweak something, walking with a slight limp near the end of an early group session. He didn't run plays in team afterward, but was back catching punts during special teams and made sure to stay alongside his teammates for the remainder of practice after he was checked out by trainers.

“We just brought him in to check him out, make sure he was OK," Kitchens said. "I have not got the full lowdown on it yet, how severe, how significant. Jarvis is a tough guy. He was out there practicing with it and he is a tough guy. We will monitor him accordingly and give him reps.”

Tight end Pharaoh Brown also played through a bit of a limp and had plenty of prodding from Kitchens, who saw him come up slightly lame and advised the tight end the team didn't need any limping out of him. Already missing two tight ends due to concussion protocol, the Browns couldn't really afford to lose another. And Brown couldn't afford any time out -- not when he's battling for a job.

5. Discipline showing itself

Earlier in this camp, defensive end Chad Thomas got into a fracas with Brown, resulting in a scrum, separation and the entire team running three half-gassers. Kitchens emphasized after that practice that his team would not tolerate, nor would it practice penalties.

It seems that message has been heard.

Monday, safety Tigie Sankoh and running back D'Ernest Johnson got into a scuffle at the end of a play, with Sankoh pulling off Johnson's helmet. It looked as if it was about to morph into a full-blown fight when suddenly, it stopped.

As his helmet fell to the ground, Johnson appeared ready to throw hands before he simply froze and the two were separated. All of this happened just a few feet from Kitchens. Practice resumed shortly thereafter, almost as if it never happened.

It might be old school and it might seem repetitive, but Kitchens' points of emphasis seem to be sticking with his players after 10 days.

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