About an hour before Monday's practice, the Browns didn't know if they'd have 12 of their players on the field. Those players were awaiting the results of their daily COVID-19 tests as the Browns continued their path back to normal in the wake of Sunday's testing issues that briefly closed the team facility.
They got the all clear just in time, and the Browns hit the field for a full-pads Monday practice under sunny skies and blazing heat and humidity.
1. Secondary depth getting an early test
The Browns entered Monday's practice already without CBs Kevin Johnson (liver) and Terrance Mitchell (knee) and wound up down three more members of the secondary by the end of it. That group includes S Grant Delpit, who was carted off the field with an Achilles injury.
That left Pro Bowl CB Denzel Ward and a rotating cast of new faces left to man the first-team defense through the majority of the practice.
The slew of injuries meant significant snaps for CB Donovan Olumba, who filled in for Greedy Williams (shoulder) on the opposite side of Ward. Olumba, who stands taller than most CBs at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, is officially in his first NFL season out of Portland State. Originally signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Olumba has spent most of the past two seasons on the Cowboys' practice squad. Before Monday, he'd been primarily working with the second-team defense.
Without Johnson and M.J. Stewart (hamstring), who had emerged as the first-team option in the slot after Johnson's injury, the Browns used a mix of Donnie Lewis Jr. and Tavierre Thomas. Lewis, a seventh-round pick in 2019, was limited in his first offseason program by a foot injury and never saw the field as a rookie. Thomas has been one of the Browns' best special teams players since joining the roster in 2018 but has rarely seen the field as a defensive back.
Without Delpit and Karl Joseph, who did not participate Monday, the Browns utilized Sheldrick Redwine and undrafted rookie Elijah Benton on some snaps with the first defense. Benton, along with LB Solomon Ajayi, came to Cleveland out of Liberty University, where he totaled 205 tackles in 44 career games (26 starts). Redwine picked up some significant experience during the second half of his rookie season last year when the secondary was hit hard by injuries.
The Browns have 20 days to heal up before their season opener against the Ravens. In the meantime, they'll entrust a number of different faces who have been preparing for this kind of moment.
Check out photos from the eighth day of Browns Camp
2. The latest on Delpit
Delpit will undergo further testing on the injury, which he suffered during individual drills in the early portion of Monday's practice.
A second-round pick out of LSU, Delpit entered training camp at full strength after dealing with a high ankle sprain throughout his final college season. He'd primarily seen action with the second-team defense through the first part of training camp but would fill in for Karl Joseph on the first team on days Joseph rested.
Delpit, who hails from Houston, won the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive back. He was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018, when he racked up 74 tackles (9.5 for loss, five sacks), five interceptions and nine pass breakups. He followed this past year with second-team All-American honors after compiling 65 tackles, 4.5 for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups for the undefeated, national champion Tigers.
3. Some highlights
The Browns offense got off to a fast start in the first team drills with big runs from Nick Chubb and some nice completions from Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr.. Austin Hooper continued to be productive. The highlight of the day for the offense came on a goal line drill when Mayfield found rookie Harrison Bryant in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
For the first time this training camp, the Browns broke out their two-minute offense for portions of the camp. It came with mixed results, but Cleveland's coaches will continue to harp on it in the coming days.
"Really, once it is in, that is when we start to repeat those periods throughout training camp," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said before practice.
4. Here and There
- The following players did not practice Monday due to injury: WR KhaDarel Hodge (personal), S Karl Joseph (foot), CB Kevin Johnson (liver), WR Jarvis Landry (hip), CB Terrance Mitchell (knee), TE David Njoku (wrist), DT Larry Ogunjobi (groin), WR Damion Ratley (groin). C JC Tretter (knee) and LB Mack Wilson (knee). LB Solomon Ajayi (heat), S Grant Delpit (Achilles), CB M.J. Stewart Jr. (hamstring) and CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) left practice early.
- The Browns will hit the field earlier Tuesday for practice, which is scheduled for 10:55 a.m.