Joel Bitonio and Austin Corbett were briefly teammates in college at Nevada. Now, the pair will anchor the left side of the Browns’ offensive line for the foreseeable future.
“It's the start to something good, I believe,” coach Hue Jackson said Saturday, less than day after the team’s first intrasquad scrimmage.
It was among the first of many times they’ll will line up together in a game-like setting. After months of uncertainty at the position, Bitonio moved from left guard to left tackle Wednesday and Corbett, who’d been previously working with the second team, moved up with the first group to Bitonio’s old spot.
Thus far, Jackson has been encouraged by the way the duo works together.
“What I’ve seen over there, I see somebody who’s playing against somebody that he’s comfortable with,” Jackson said of Corbett, a rookie who was the 33rd overall pick in this past NFL Draft.
“They communicate well. They had some double-team blocks that were tremendous. They play off of each other. It’s like they have been around each other, you can just see it. The twist games that they were able to pick up. That’s exciting.”
Bitonio had been the Browns’ starting left guard since 2014 and earned Pro Bowl alternate honors last season. He effectively replaces future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas, who retired in March after 11 seasons.
— In Friday evening’s intrasquad scrimmage, fans in attendance got an idea of what the Browns’ front seven might look like this fall when at full strength. After missing a combined 21 games in 2017 because of various injuries, Myles Garrett, Jamie Collins and Emmanuel Ogbah turned in strong performances during the session. The hope is it carries over into the regular season.
“We can be as good as we can be,” said Ogbah, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 10. “Having all three of us back there at the same time, we want to be dominant. We want to be a dominant force on the field.”
— Fourth-year safety Damarious Randall has a few words of wisdom for rookie cornerback Denzel Ward as the Browns get into the dog days of training camp. “Just take it day by day,” he said. “The camp days get long, and sometimes it feels like déjà vu every day. I just tell him to find something that he can get better at.”
Randall, a first-round pick back in 2015, said he’s been impressed with Ward, the fourth overall pick in this past spring’s draft. “I think that he has the ability to be one of the elite corners in this league,” he said.
“He’s fast. He can run with anybody. The biggest thing that I’m impressed with is his press technique. He’s not scared to go up there and press anyone. That’s one thing that you look for in a younger guy.”
— It was a blip on the radar when wide receiver C.J. Board signed with the team's practice squad last December. But thanks to a strong camp and impressive showing in Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage, he seems to have a shot at earning a spot in a crowded receivers room.
“I just come out here and work hard every day,” he said. “The film speaks for itself, and all I can do is make sure that I am doing things right and making plays.”
Board, an undrafted free agent in 2017, spent time on Baltimore and Tennessee’s practice squads before coming to Cleveland.