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Fresh Takes from Training Camp

Fresh Takes: Observations from Day 7 of Browns training camp

Thursday's skies were clear, the temperature slightly higher than Wednesday's overcast session, and Mother Nature must have been tipped off by the gameplan, because the Browns offense produced results that were just as bright as the sun.

Take a look at this grab from No. 80:

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1. Imagine the possibilities

After a couple of days of limited work, Odell Beckham Jr. saw significant team period reps again Thursday and pleased onlookers with his receptions like a live painter entertains with brush strokes on canvas. Baker Mayfield escaped pressure on a play and fired a slightly off-target pass to Beckham, who jumped and made the difficult catch with ease. Short passes went for longer gains thanks to Beckham's agility. And the best came when he was teamed with his best friend.

With the ball placed inside the opponent's 10, Mayfield readied for the shotgun snap with Beckham and Jarvis Landry lined up to his right. Beckham, in the slot, turned to see Mayfield motion to the two of them to adjust their routes. What ensued was pure beauty.

Beckham broke off the line toward the outside, running a fade to the pylon in the back corner of the end zone. Landry, lined up wide, ran a slant underneath. Mayfield lobbed the ball into the air over T.J. Carrie and into the hands of Beckham for an easy score.

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It's difficult to imagine through the monotony of training camp, but the little moments in which these types of plays succeed are the delicious glimpses into what the future can be for this Browns offense.

2. Smooth day for offense

That touchdown was just one of a good amount of successful plays executed Thursday in what was the offense's best day in pads.

For the second straight day, Mayfield displayed command of the offense and a growing rapport with his receivers. He connected with Landry, Beckham, Rashard Higgins, Derrick Willies (who had yet another solid day) and Ishmael Hyman, among others. When hurry-up situations increased pressure, Mayfield thrived, and he didn't lean on one specific target. All of these are encouraging developments.

Most importantly to head coach Freddie Kitchens were the lack of mental errors Thursday after a Wednesday session that was filled with them.

"Yes, I was happier today, and mainly because right now in this point in time, I am not worried about the success or nonsuccess of the play, I am worried about the understanding of us being a smart football team," Kitchens explained. "That is what I was very upset with yesterday, we have got to be a smart football team. Games are won and lost because you are not smart enough to recognize the situation, adjust to the situation, and make a play accordingly, whatever that play may be."

The downside: The running game struggled mightily during run-heavy periods. Perhaps that's a result of a defense knowing what to expect in the period, but as Kitchens emphasized Wednesday, his team must be able to run the ball even when everyone in the state knows a run is coming. They didn't quite do that Thursday.

3. Offseason additions (and their absences) are noticeable

Thursday was an encouraging turn of events for the offense, but it wasn't without good reason.

Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson did not practice.

Their absence was very evident from the start, as their replacements, while adequate, didn't generate the type of pass rush that has caused the offense problems early in this camp. Instead, Mayfield enjoyed more time to throw, producing more completions and positive gains.

The rest of the practice exhibited a better flow. But the absences of Richardson and Vernon were pronounced, underscoring how important they will be to this defense -- and how much better this defense should be with them on the field.

4. Kicking competitions are far from decided

The Browns' kickers got a break from scrutiny Thursday, but they remained a hot topic in the post-practice pressers.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer spoke to the media for the first time since the offseason program Thursday and was peppered with questions about his placekicking situation. The big takeaway: There's still a lot of time to figure this thing out.

"We got a game next Thursday, I think Saturday night we are going to kick a bunch of field goals," Priefer said. "We are going to punt. We are going to be in situations that (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) is going to put us in that puts some pressure on these guys, we will see how they respond. Am I concerned right now? No. I thought they both hit the ball better yesterday, we did not respond as well on the team as I think we should have. Today, they both worked separately in some technique work. I thought they both did a nice job and we will see how they do Saturday night."

Kitchens also fielded questions about his kicking situation Thursday and emphasized he's going to continue to place them in pressure situations in order to best evaluate who is the right man for the job.

"Again, I would like to see the kicks go through the uprights, and I would like that done consistently," Kitchens said Thursday. "And I am pretty sure if you asked them, they would like the same thing. Now we just need to get to the point where we are doing it. The only thing I know is to continue to put them in those situations, and hopefully they get more and more comfortable doing it because the situations will not change."

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

5. Strong finish for Hyman

We mentioned Hyman above, but he had a really nice sequence at the end that deserves to be highlighted.

In need of a score, the first-team unit flamed out after a ball deflected at the line of scrimmage was intercepted by Daniel Ekuale. The second team then took the field and made quick work of the 60 yards ahead of it. Drew Stanton found Hyman on a quick out, which Hyman caught and turned up the sideline for a scamper of nearly 50 yards. The best detail: The big gain wouldn't have happened had Jaelen Strong not executed an excellent block in space to spring Hyman.

The next play, Hyman caught a pass on a quick slant to get the offense inside the 5. And later in practice, Hyman caught another quick slant on the goal line for a touchdown, spiking the ball to punctuate his finish.

The bottom two receiver spots should continue to receive plenty of attention because there are some talented targets who are going to have to scratch and claw their way into contention. Willies has done so with steady, effective play. It's up to the rest to match him in an attempt to win one of the jobs. Hyman did his part Thursday.

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