For the first 11 practices of training camp, all eyes have been on quarterback Baker Mayfield. The 2018 No. 1 overall pick earned the spotlight after throwing an NFL record 27 touchdowns last season, but there’s still plenty of competition behind Mayfield.
Enter Garrett Gilbert and David Blough.
Gilbert joined the Browns after he led the now-defunct Alliance of American Football league in passing yards (2,152), passing touchdowns (13) and completions (157). He has plenty of NFL experience, too, and he was on the Patriots’ practice squad when they won Super Bowl XLIX.
Check out photos from the eleventh day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey
Blough, who played at Purdue last season, received his first taste of the NFL after the Browns signed him as an undrafted free agent. He broke the school record after he passed for 572 yards against Missouri last September.
The two are competing for a spot in the Browns quarterback room along with 12-year NFL veteran Drew Stanton. Both are hoping the Browns opt to keep three quarterbacks on their roster, but that’s a spot only one of them can win.
“My job again is just to simply improve every day and be the best that I can be,” Gilbert said. “Wherever the chips may fall, then so be it. I feel like if I focus on improving myself everyday getting better, then everything will take care of itself.”
After dealing with issues at quarterback depth during his 11 years as a position coach with the Arizona Cardinals, head coach Freddie Kitchens hopes one of the quarterbacks impresses enough to earn a roster spot.
That decision won’t be made anytime soon, though. Kitchens wants to see how Gilbert and Blough perform in preseason games before any decisions are made on who leads the competition.
“We haven’t even started preseason games yet,” Kitchens said. “I don’t want to crown anyone just yet.”
— Kitchens opened his press conference Tuesday by extending his sympathies to victims of the shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Texas. He also expressed his prayers to the family of longtime NFL writer Don Banks, who passed away Sunday.
— Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has appeared in all three wide receiver positions at some point at training camp. The Browns look ready to use Beckham’s athleticism and quickness from anywhere on the field.
“You like his quickness, his change of direction and his ball skills on the inside,” Kitchens said. “Sometimes you just got to compete for the ball. Sometimes you just got to go get it and take it away from (the defensive back), so that’s what I like about him.”
— Kitchens isn’t sure yet if starters will be used in the Browns’ first preseason game Thursday against the Washington Redskins at FirstEnergy Stadium. The head coach did admit, though, that the Browns’ upcoming practices with the Indianapolis Colts will factor into the decision.
“Some of it has to factor into who’s available,” he said. “We haven’t decided that yet.”
— Cornerback Denzel Ward exited practice after he pulled up lame during a play. Kitchens confirmed Ward suffered an injury. He doesn’t know the specifics, but he doesn’t expect Ward to miss much time.
“I don’t know how severe it is or anything like that yet,” Kitchens said. “I’m sure he’ll be OK.”