The grass looked great, the weather was perfect and the Browns sported their brand new uniforms on an absolutely gorgeous day at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The only thing missing Sunday was the fans — outside of some family of players, coaches and team employees who were spread across the middle level of the stadium in socially distanced pods.
The Browns, though, made it feel just a little bit more like a "normal" Sunday by piping in crowd noise throughout the practice, which was essentially a scrimmage for the second half of it.
"It was definitely different with the constant level of that crowd noise or white noise, whatever you want to call it," Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said. "Without the right headsets, it was a little difficult to hear the walkie-talkie stuff, but that is stuff we are working through. It was good to get out there in the stadium for some of those guys to feel like what it would be like to play with a small crowd."
Here's what happened on a beautiful day by the lake.
1. Methodical day for 1st-team offense
Mayfield had all of his weapons at his disposal Sunday, as he lined up with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry at wide receiver, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt at running back and his full cast of playmaking tight ends, led by Pro Bowler Austin Hooper. He utilized just about all of them at some point during the half-practice, half-scrimmage, whether it was during a red zone period that featured touchdown throws to Beckham and Hooper, or the team period, which saw him lead the offense down the field for a touchdown one series after being stuffed for a three-and-out.
It was a productive day of work to cap a four-day stretch that has featured a noticeable uptick in successful moments for the Browns' passing attack.
"There is definitely room to improve," Mayfield said. "I thought we did some things well, but we will look back on the film and probably be not as satisfied."
The first offense was at its best when it got its second crack against the second-team defense. The biggest play came on a third-down completion to Damion Ratley, who recently returned to practice after missing a chunk of time with a groin injury.
Mayfield found David Njoku to get the Browns near the goal line, and Hunt finished off the successful possession with a short touchdown run.
It wasn't always smooth sailing, but Mayfield stressed the team wasn't calling plays the way it would in a real game.
"We did not run the ball as much with the live periods, just trying to prevent some injuries and stuff like that," Mayfield said. "Just trying some things out. Obviously, ran a few trick plays, not normally how we would call a game. We will look back on the film and there is always room to improve."
Check out photos from the thirtieth day of Browns Camp
2. Case Keenum, second offense provide legitimate challenge for defense
The biggest play of the day came at the very beginning of the team periods, when Keenum, with a flick of the wrist, found a wide-open Njoku for a 55-yard gain. Njoku, who also worked with the first offense, has been in and out of practice over the past week because of a wrist injury.
"He got lost in the defense there on that first play and made an explosive play," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Good to see him back out there and moving around."
Keenum tossed two touchdown down passes on consecutive drives against the first defense, finding Ratley on a third-and-goal play and then RB D’Ernest Johnson on a pass that capped an impressive second possession. Johnson celebrated his score by hopping into an empty Dawg Pound and dishing out pretend high-fives to fans we wish could have been there with us.
The first defense — which has already lost S Grant Delpit for the season and has been without LB Mack Wilson for weeks — was without a number of its top players, including DE Myles Garrett, who was held out for precautionary reasons because of a wrist injury, LB B.J. Goodson (personal reasons) and CB Greedy Williams (shoulder).
"We are getting really good work," Stefanski said. "Obviously, we have to go back and sit down and watch it with the coaches and watch with the players and learn from the good plays and learn from the bad plays. I thought, by and large, both sides got a lot of really good work in. Had a live portion of it and got into different situational moments so I was pleased with that."
3. Don't forget about special teams
Austin Seibert connected on all of his field goals during one period but then hit the uprights on two long attempts during a situational period that had the special team units race onto the field and attempt kicks with seconds to spare. All of his kicks were attempted into the "Dawg Pound" end zone, which gave Seibert and kickers around the league issues throughout the 2019 season.
"I think we put him down there in the Dawg Pound on purpose kicking that way because it is obviously harder," Stefanski said. "Just going to make sure that he keeps working every single day."
4. Here and There
- The following players did not practice Sunday: DE Myles Garrett (wrist), LB B.J. Goodson (personal), T Chris Hubbard (ankle), CB Kevin Johnson (liver), CB M.J. Stewart Jr. (hamstring), C JC Tretter (knee), CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) and LB Mack Wilson (knee).
- The Browns are off Monday and will get back to work Tuesday with their first of four consecutive days of practice. Stefanski said those practices will still be "training camp mode" types of sessions.
- Rosters must be trimmed to 53 by Saturday afternoon. The Browns will return to FirstEnergy Stadium on Friday for what promises to be more of a "dress rehearsal game" type of practice.