Training camp is only six days old, but it's already evident that quarterback Baker Mayfield is comfortable in his cemented, no-doubt-about-it role as a starting quarterback as he begins his second NFL season.
Mayfield has made his voice heard — something he couldn't do as a rookie backup quarterback this time last year — several times around the Browns practice fields in Berea. On Wednesday, Mayfield ran down the field and encouraged wide receiver Rashard Higgins to run to the end zone after he wasn't touched by a defensive back after a long pass.
The moment showed how far Mayfield has come in assuming the role as a franchise quarterback.
"This year is definitely a lot different," Mayfield said. "They know what's expected, and they know I'm going to push them and push myself. It's nothing personal. It comes to getting after somebody, and I expect them to hold me accountable as well."
Mayfield has backed up his teaching with his play, too. Last year's training camp was about having Mayfield acclimate to NFL speed. Now, head coach Freddie Kitchens wants to make sure the 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick knows what to do when the defense shows something new.
He wants Mayfield to be comfortable as the starting quarterback, but he can't let him be too comfortable when he reads the defense at the line of scrimmage. That's not how it always works on gameday.
"I think his understanding of protections is better," Kitchens said. "(We're) continuing to give him different looks and giving him an environment where it's reactionary, and not planned. It's a learning process for him, too. It's continuing to put the quarterback in a situation to decipher what the situation is and react accordingly. That's how you play in this league."
— Kitchens remains confident that Browns kickers Greg Joseph and Austin Seibert will improve from what's been a tough camp. Both kickers have struggled to consistently split the uprights during team drills in practice, but Kitchens doesn't want to make any snap decisions on what to do next with the kicking duo.
"They need to keep competing," Kitchens said. "That's all I have to say about it right now. They just need to keep competing and forget about today and move on to the next day."
— Mayfield said that training camp so far has been more physical than last season. The Browns have used pads in practice in four of the six practices, and the hits and tackles Wednesday seemed a little harder than previous practices.
"That's the way it's expected," Mayfield said. "When we need to run the ball, we run the ball, and when they need to stop the run, they stop it. That's what this division is about. We got to able to run the ball physically."
— Kitchens had no issues with center JC Tretter finishing practice after rolling his ankle. Tretter played through a slew of injuries last season, and Kitchens is hoping players follow Tretter's toughness as the fatigue of training camp increases.
"I don't know where that expectation came from that (Tretter) needed to sit out because of a little hurt ankle," Kitchens said. "JC demonstrated last year that he can play hurt, and we have to understand as a group collectively the difference between being hurt and injured. I don't want people wired any other way."
— Genard Avery (ankle), Seth DeValve (concussion), Trayone Gray (calf-NFI), Kareem Hunt (groin-NFI), Duke Johnson Jr. (hamstring), Donnie Lewis Jr. (foot), Damion Ratley (hamstring), Chad Thomas (illness) and Olivier Vernon (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.