John Greco and Billy Winn return to practice
John Greco was back at practice Thursday after missing akk of camp rehabbing a minor injury. Greco started 14 games last season, mostly at left guard. He was limited in his first training camp practice, but the 29-year-old is not troubled by missing time. Greco's still been in on every meeting and he's confident the work he put in during the spring will carry over.
"Now we are hitting the ground running. We're like, 'Okay, I remember this look. I remember this technique,'" said Greco about the new istallments in the offense. "It seems like everyone is thinking less and reacting quicker."
Kyle Shanahan echoed those sentiments.
"Out of anybody on the O-line that I've been around in these past few months, I don't think Greco will miss a beat," said Shanahan. "He's a smart player. He's played games. It's not too big for him."
On the other side of the ball Billy Winn was also eased back into the swing of things Thursday. The Browns wanted to be cautious and let the injury heal for the 25-year-old defensive lineman.
More-so than Greco, Winn knows he has to start shining immediately. The defensive line is jam packed with players itching for more snaps. John Hughes and Armonty Bryant are blossoming in terms of their growth as situational pass rushers, the role Winn held in 2013.
As a defensive line and as a team, Winn thinks the Browns need to better at getting the job done. Getting in the backfield for a quarterback harassment isn't enough. In 10 games last season, the Browns either led or the score was tied at half time. The problem needs to be addressed and Winn thinks it's going to be.
"It all comes down to finishing," said Winn. "This year, that's one of our biggest focuses. I feel like we're headed in the right direction."
Thursday's notes and quotes
- When the Cleveland Browns defense huddles together as an entire unit, they chant this in unison: dominate. And they've been doing plenty of that in the first full week of training camp.
- While the offense did get in to a little rhythm for an early portion of practice – thanks to Miles Austin at receiver – the defense rose to the occasion when it mattered, again. Thursday's competition for those slick orange jersey's was of the goal line variety. On 3rd-and-two from the two, the offense had two chances to put the ball in the end zone. Again, they came up short.
- Mike Pettine thinks these kinds of situations in practice will help change the mindset of his team in a close game.
- "The lesson I wanted for the guys to learn…I thought the offense had the upper hand most of the day, short yardage period for sure, backed up was a mixed bag, the four-minute situation was probably leaned a little bit towards the O," said Pettine. "Then even early in the goal line, it was the offense, but it happens all the time where you play well all throughout and you've got to be able to make plays at the end."
- "That's sometimes how the game goes in this league," said Brian Hoyer. "You dominate all game and then when it comes down to it you've got to make the play at the end. We didn't do that, so the defense, they came in and got them when they needed to. We have to do a better job of finishing."
- Tashaun Gipson showed toughness (physical and mental) when he separated the ball from reserve tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi in the goal line portion of practice. Gipson went airborne and knocked away what would've been a touchdown pass from Duke Johnson Jr. to Ogbuehi.
- Pettine noted to the media that Gipson and fellow safety Donte Whitner will flip-flop positions soon in practice. Gipson has exclusively been playing free safety, while Whitner has been lining up at strong safety and roaming closer to the line of scrimmage. The switch is all a part of Pettine's "cross-training" plan, getting his players accustomed to do anything and everything. Cross-training makes it harder for offenses to prepare for the Browns.
- "He's been solid," Pettine said of Gipson. "I don't know that he's got that many opportunities with balls thrown at him, but he's done a good job. He and Donte [Whitner], I think, are very complementary to each other. They communicate well."