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Fresh Takes from Training Camp

Fresh Takes: Observations from Day 17 of Browns training camp

Monday's weather -- a hot blanket of humidity -- told us what we already knew: It's definitely the middle of August in Ohio.

The Browns are through two preseason games and have a third in just four days but must first get through a week of work that includes focuses on individual improvement as well as preparation for their meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Accomplishing those tasks began Monday with another fully padded practice in Berea.

Here are our observations from Day 17 of #BrownsCamp.

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

1. Kareem Hunt in full force

This began last week, but Kareem Hunt's usage continues to increase with each passing day. He saw plenty of work Monday and looked stellar on just about every snap.

Hunt slashed through open running lanes, getting out into open space for what would be big gains in actual games. He was just as productive in the passing game, catching passes on wheel routes out of the backfield for what also would have been large chunks of yards.

Hunt won't be around for the first eight games of the 2019 schedule. We know this. But when he returns fresh in the second half of the season, he carries the potential to serve as a franchise-changing back for a team that already features Nick Chubb. We saw their potential working in the same offense Monday. Talk about an injection of talent.

2. Kicking struggles continue

Greg Joseph and rookie Austin Seibert each posted identical 4-for-6 kicking marks during Monday's session, with Seibert's long make of 55 yards besting Joseph's long make of 46.

This session came after the kickers each missed nearly identical attempts in Saturday's win over the Indianapolis Colts and didn't exactly inspire confidence in the kicking situation.

"Everything they do is just like any other position," Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said. "It goes down to technique and having the confidence to go do it. But sometimes to get that confidence you've got to do it correctly, you've got to do it with success, and I can't kick it for them. I can't tackle for them."

Kitchens added the Browns are not looking to replace either of the kickers, but are looking for each to improve. The preseason is not over, meaning each will have a chance to prove he is worthy of the job. They'll get at least two more games to do so.

3. The interior carousel turns

We've seen some wild substitution patterns at guard and center lately, with Monday's play-by-play changes the most volatile of this entire camp.

On one play, Drew Forbes played right guard alongside the rest of the starting line. Then, on the next play, Austin Corbett played right guard while Eric Kush played center and Forbes played left guard. Then on the next play, Forbes played right guard, Corbett played center and Willie Wright played left guard.

That type of rapid rotation is a significant step up, a true test for these players to see how well they know their assignments and if they can execute under pressure. We aren't talking about a carousel here anymore -- this is your county fair's scrambler ride.

Each seemed to handle the challenge fairly well. Forbes continues to look better at guard, Corbett bounced back from a difficult second half Saturday to step toward improvement and Kush appears to be the favorite to start at right guard. They'll definitely be able to handle adversity, if Monday was any proof.

4. Damion Ratley back in action

Damion Ratley was a player who most people expected to make the roster somewhere within the bottom half of a six-man receiving corps, but that was derailed when he was injured on the first day of camp. He's since returned and had a good outing Monday, making catches and running precise routes in multiple periods of practice.

"I like his range, his length, I like his speed," Kitchens said of Ratley after practice Monday. "He's got deceptive top speed. I just need to see consistency."

Ratley spent the first two-plus weeks on the sideline with a hamstring injury and didn't fully return until Monday. He's got a smaller window to prove his candidacy for this team, and he'll have to get to work quickly. His first day was a nice step toward that.

5. Eric Murray stacking days

This won't be talked about much, but Eric Murray has noticeably improved in the last week or so.

Murray strung together a couple of solid practices before heading to Indianapolis with his teammates, where he recorded a pass defense and got home on a safety blitz for a sack in Saturday's win. He added to that Monday, breaking up two passes in team periods and was seemingly always in the fray of the defensive backfield.

The defensive back situation is interesting, because the total number of safeties this team keeps could be higher than usual. Murray, who was acquired in a trade that sent defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah to the Kansas City Chiefs, is further strengthening his case, especially in the absence of Jermaine Whitehead, who has been out with an injury suffered during last week's joint practices.

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