Fresh Takes from Training Camp

Presented by

Fresh Takes: Observations from Day 11 of Browns training camp

Rain finally arrived Tuesday, but not before the Browns were able to squeeze in their 11th practice of training camp.

While the grass drinks in the much-needed water, we're reflecting on another hot practice in Berea. Here are our observations from Day 11 of #BrownsCamp.

1. Oh, Odell

Yes, it was.

He hauled in touchdowns in an efficient red-zone period. He made highlight grabs downfield. And he, predictably, caught everything in between. A day after Odell Beckham Jr. spent the practice completely out of sight due to illness, he showed us many glimpses of how he can be the catalyst to Cleveland's offense.

Beckham's presence makes the unit significantly more dangerous, and coaches spent Tuesday tinkering with how lethal it could be. Beckham lined up all over the field, getting reps outside and in the slot and finding success from all locations.

The headaches for opposing defenses are easy to envision. And the benefits reaped by Jarvis Landry and other targets could seem endless.

“Each and every day it is getting better and better," receivers coach Adam Henry said about Beckham's and Landry's development within Cleveland's offense. "You saw today they strung together a good day. There are going to be ebbs and flows, and you stay with it.”

Staying with this offense will be worth your time.

2. It's Kush, again

Eric Kush got the start at right guard with the first team on Monday, which would mean Tuesday would be Austin Corbett's day if the rotation stayed true to form. But it didn't.

Kush ran with the first team again Tuesday, officially breaking the rotation. There is an important aside, though: Kyle Kalis, also part of the rotation, left practice after suffering what Freddie Kitchens said he thought was a stinger during individual work early in the session. As a result, Corbett played second- and third-team center (Kalis usually mans the latter) and Bryan Witzmann played second-team right guard.

All the while, Kush filled the starting right guard. Unsurprisingly, he did a solid job.

"We like Kush, that's why he's here," Kitchens said afterward. "But again, he needs to string together days, good days, consistent days. I don't mind not being the best at anything. I just want to know what we're getting when we go out there on that field.

"We judge off what we've seen ... and that's a fluid situation."

The team hasn't yet played a preseason game, so it is a little too early to start making declarations. But it's clear from the last few days that Kush has a nose in the race, if he isn't in the lead entirely. His veteran presence pairs well with his stout blocking in the run and pass games, and with what Kitchens wants in his players: toughness.

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

3. Moments of adversity

Kitchens has said repeatedly that he plans to put his players in moments of adversity to test their resilience. On Tuesday, Kitchens swung the practice completely off script, shifting to the second field and forcing his offense to move the ball from their own 1-yard line. The results were mixed.

David Njoku dropped a pass that would've bought the offense a little breathing room, and two plays later, Jermaine Whitehead read a run fake perfectly, leapt at the line and intercepted a short pass on the goal line, needing just one step to get into the end zone for the shortest pick-six one will ever see.

This didn't produce the best results, but it did test the group, and helped reveal where they need to improve. The period also came after Kitchens stopped practice to bring his team together before an earlier 11-on-11 period, which arrived while players were having a less-than-stellar day on the field.

"We recognized a problem last night," Kitchens explained about the huddle. "I wanted to remind them of the problem that we had in yesterday's practice. And that's part of the learning process: Recognizing when something is starting to slide and putting a stop to it.

"I want to see us come back from the downs, and I think we did that at times today. Again, it's all a learning process."

4. Mack Wilson just won't go away

It was another day and another key defensive play from Mack Wilson.

Tuesday saw Wilson showing more and more comfort with his role within the Browns defense. The rookie has been in the right place at the right time more often than not, which proved to be valuable in a late ball-moving period.

Wilson undercut a throw intended for Landry, who was running a quick out, and the linebacker didn't look back, taking the interception back for a touchdown. Beckham comically chased Wilson all the way to the 5-yard line before slowing up to allow Wilson into the end zone for his latest impact play in a camp that is starting to be full of them.

"I think some of these guys come out of school and there's a couple different phases when they're swimming here," Kitchens said afterward. ... "It's a process for those guys. ... I've been very pleased with Mack, but we need to keep stringing days together."

Friday was an eye-opener, Saturday was a pat on the back and Tuesday was confirmation that Wilson's natural ability might just help him transition to the pro game faster than most. He sure doesn't seem to be slowing down.

5. "Creating depth"

We've spent a good amount of this space talking about the standout play from Derrick Willies and lately, Jaelen Strong. Both are seeing first-team reps, and not just when Beckham and Landry aren't playing. Now they're lining up alongside the stars.

"We are just doing a bunch of combinations right now and trying to create some depth there running with the ones," receivers coach Adam Henry said of Strong's recent play. "That is what we are doing. Day by day, moving guys around.”

Notably absent from these rotations on most days is presumed contender for the Nos. 3 or 4 receiver position Antonio Callaway. He's spent most of his time moving around with the second-team and is getting plenty of targets as a result. Henry explained that's by design, in order to make the overall receiver group stronger from top to bottom.

To Callaway's credit, he's made a good number of plays. He's also expected to contribute alongside Beckham and Landry, meaning ideally, he won't be catching passes from Drew Stanton on Sundays. It would make sense, then, for him to see more reps with Mayfield in order to keep building their rapport.

Henry didn't give this idea much clout, instead elaborating on how total reps is more important at this point.

"That is just creating depth," Henry said of Callaway's usage. "You want to see guys with the depth of the receiver group moving along. There are going to be times where now he is just getting a lot of the two reps, but it is a lot of reps. Just getting the reps and the communication of it. I am not worried about Callaway. He will be fine."

As he heads toward a contributing role alongside a group of scrappy targets in Rashard Higgins, Willies, Strong and Ishmael Hyman, Callaway could have a golden opportunity ahead of him. After all, it isn't every day one gets the chance to play alongside Beckham and Landry on an NFL Sunday.

"That's huge. No. 3, that's his time to go and take advantage of what they give you," Henry said. ... "Those are the things that we're coaching day to day with the details of it so they're on the page with Baker because that's a critical position right there."

Critical, indeed. We'll see who fills the role come September.

Related Content

Advertising