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OTAs & Minicamp

Minicamp Notebook: Defensive line works with Jacques Cesaire and other practice notes

Browns complete second day of mandatory minicamp 

OTA Notebook 6.12

On the fields of CrossCountry Mortgage Campus, the Browns put in another full day of work on the second day of mandatory minicamp.

It's been a productive first two days of camp, as they have worked through the new kickoff changes, continued to implement the new offense, seen QB Deshaun Watson throw in 7-on-7 and build on their defensive success from last season. The Browns have one final day where the team will be at the practice facility before training camp begins in July.

Here are some other notes and observations Wednesday's practice.

Defensive line work

Over the last two days with the entirety of the defensive line back on the practice field, they have gone to work as a unit. It's the first full look in the offseason with everyone present – from veterans in DE Myles Garrett, DE Za'Darius Smith, DT Shelby Harris to the rookie DT Mike Hall Jr. and new veteran addition DT Quinton Jefferson.

"Though we have a lot of consistency, we have a couple of new guys which we feel like are making some plays and going to help them and try to develop them in this culture as much as we can," Garrett said. "I think a lot of guys really get it and understand the kind of urgency that we're playing with and that we're passionate with and we'll get along very quickly. And that consistency helps build a culture in which we've been wanting to build for a while now, but it also builds that hunger because it's the same group of guys, mostly the same group of guys, and we all want it, even worse than last."

On the second day of minicamp, the defensive line worked through sled drills, which two players competed to see who came off the sled faster. The unit also went through a 1-on-1 pass rush drill, which saw new defensive line coach Jacques Cesaire lining up across from his players. They worked on pass rush moves against the bags and ended the drills with one focused on running around a hoop, picking up and dropping tennis balls in a specific location.

While the Browns' defensive line found success last season, serving as the engine for the defense that led the league in multiple categories, Garrett knows that they can improve as a unit for the 2024 season. The D-line plays an important role in their overall success as a defense.

"We only had one year under (Jim) Schwartz," Garrett said. "They did a hell of a job. And him having consistency up front and with the defense, he's going to start dialing things up a little bit more, reaching more into his bag. He threw the fastball a lot and it was successful. But now being able to change it up a little bit, it's really going to throw teams for a loop. And we're looking forward to really getting after guys and making the plays some of us miss and some of the plays that we missed."

Another look at kickoff returners

As the Browns have drilled the new kickoff rule changes, they have repped different skills players as returners. On Wednesday, WR Jamari Thrash and WR Ahmarean Brown took reps in the backfield catching the ball on the return.

Working through the kickoff changes has been an important part of the Browns offseason work, both in OTAs and minicamp, as they work through the nuances of the new rules.

"There were some ideas that we had about the play that we thought, and then you watch the guys run it live and maybe you feel a little bit differently. So, it's something that is definitely going to be evolving," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "There's still things that we are working through and are curious about just like everybody else. But we know the rules, we know there's got to be two returners in the landing zone, so we'll work through all the details as we go."

Other practice notes

  • Veteran WR Amari Cooper was not present for the second day of minicamp.
  • WR Jerry Jeudy worked off to the side with trainers for the second consecutive day. He did not participate in offensive or 7-on-7 drills.
  • While Watson went through mentals reps during Wednesday's practice, QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson took a number of live reps throughout the offensive drills and in 7-on-7 drills. During one of the reps in 7-on-7, Thompson-Robinson threw a completion to rookie WR Jamari Thrash.
  • The Browns honored "Voice of the Cleveland Browns" Jim Donovan for his retirement from WKYC, and Donovan broke down the team following practice.

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