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Gary Barnidge's eyes are on training camp: 'I'll be ready'

Less than a week removed from surgery, Browns Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge talked confidently about returning to the field, which he expects to do sooner rather than later.

Barnidge underwent surgery Thursday on a sports hernia. The cause of the injury, he said, was everyday wear and tear, and the timing of the surgery -- near the tail end of OTAs -- was purposeful.

"It was just the opportunity to get it all done and I won't miss any time," Barnidge said Wednesday before the Browns' second practice of their three-day mandatory veteran minicamp. "That was the purpose of it, so we would get all of this done and then I would be ready to go for training camp and it wouldn't pop up in the season.

"I'll be ready."

Barnidge said he's been "getting better every day" since the procedure and is walking in his normal fashion. His goal is to be ready before training camp, but it's clear the Browns aren't going to rush back their leader in receptions (79), receiving yards (1,043) and receiving touchdowns (9). He plans to spend plenty of time in Berea during the team's six-week break between minicamp and training camp.

With Barnidge sidelined, the Browns are utilizing a young group of tight ends who carry plenty of promise but have minimal NFL experience. Members of this group, including fourth-round pick Seth DeValve, will be vying to replace No. 2 tight end Jim Dray, who departed for Buffalo during the offseason, and coalesce with Barnidge and the rest of Cleveland's offense.

"I think they're all doing a good job," Barnidge said. "I think as a whole our whole position group is doing great. They're all learning, they're all young guys and they're all taking it in stride. They're coming along. It's going to be fun to see how we can co-exist together in training camp."

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