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News & Notes: Joel Bitonio says Jedrick Wills 'looks smooth' in transition to left tackle

Joel Bitonio knows the last few months have been anything but easy for Jedrick Wills Jr.

Wills, the Browns' first-round draft pick, is in the process of making the often tricky switch from right tackle to left tackle. He's been learning on the fly since the Browns were allowed back into team facilities since the beginning of August, and he'll continue to receive a heavy load of reps each day of practice.

Bitonio, who underwent a brief switch to left tackle in 2018, understands the challenges Wills will face, especially without any preseason games.

"It's tough," Bitonio said. "There's a learning curve, but luckily we have a bunch of practices here. We still have a month before the first game, but it's not a lot of time. We're working against the clock."

Bitonio, however, said the Browns' offensive line is doing all it can to get Wills up to speed. Bitonio said Wills already has a firm grasp on the new wide-zone blocking schemes coach Kevin Stefanski has incorporated into the offense, and he was complimentary to offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who has 40 years of experience in coaching and making the most of offensive linemen.

"He's a football guy, that's for sure," Bitonio said. "He's very detailed and organized, and he knows what he wants out of his O-line. He's been around it all, and that's one of the best things about him. He's seen every situation in the NFL and he's coached future Hall of Famers. He's seen what they do well and what we can do well."

Check out photos from the second day of Browns Camp

Bitonio noted that all rookies must power through their first training camp, no matter their position. One of the most important things for any offensive rookie is to master the playbook, and Bitonio believes Wills has done just that.

As the reps increase, Bitonio believes Wills' physical prowess and comfort at the position will only grow, too.

"He looks smooth," Bitonio said. "If you told me had played left tackle in college, I wouldn't have questioned it. From a stance, kick step and firing off the ball, it looks pretty natural for him."

-CB Kevin Johnson has arguably made the most impressive plays on the defensive side of the ball. He intercepted Case Keenum on Day 1 and made a few pass deflections on Day 2.

Johnson, a six-year veteran, is a prime candidate for the top nickel cornerback position open on the depth chart. He was a first-round pick by the Houston Texans in 2015, and his impressive performance so far has aligned with what Stefanski has heard from his former coaches around the league.

"He's a pro," Stefanski said. "He's a very smart player. I spoke to his coaches when he was coming here, and they were all effusive in their praise. I'm really pleased that he's a part of this group."

-The Browns will finally strap the pads on Monday and ramp up the physicality of practices. It's another step toward training camp feeling normal again, but Stefanski still wants player to exercise caution and show care when lowering a shoulder.

"We have to constantly remind guys how to practice in pads," he said. "We need to know how to practice hard and practice smart. The intensity certainly ramps up, but we'll be smart about how we acclimate to those pads and make sure we're keeping everybody safe."

-Stefanski also said the Browns will look to hold two practices in FirstEnergy Stadium before Week 1. The practices will be used to put the Browns in as close to a real-game environment as possible, and Stefanski hopes to simulate exactly how players will handle a gameday schedule.

"I think that is going to be important for us," he said. "We will put the players through a lot of game-like situations. That will be one of the ideas in getting to the stadium, getting used to the locker room and making it as much game-like as we can."

-JC Tretter (knee), Myles Garrett (hamstring) and Damion Ratley (groin) did not practice Sunday.

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