Skip to main content

News & Notes

News & Notes: Michael Woods II returns to practice after cracking 53-man roster spot

Woods maintained his confidence and found ways to grow stronger mentally while missing time with a hamstring injury


Michael Woods II received two great pieces of news Tuesday at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus.

The first: Woods had made the Browns' initial 53-man roster and had done so despite missing the last three weeks of practice with a hamstring injury. He showed the Browns everything he needed, however, in a productive first week of training camp when he flashed as one of the top receivers. He showcased reliable hands, good burst after the catch and was one of the early standouts.

The second: He was able to return to practice. The hamstring injury is behind him, and he's ready to re-join the team as they shift their focus to Week 1 against the Panthers.

"This is why I'm here," Woods said. "I have a lot of fun when I am on the field, and of course as a competitor, I hate being out. It was definitely great to get back on the field and see everybody back on the team. It's a great day."

Woods said he never lost faith that he'd crack the roster despite his injury. As a sixth-round pick from Oklahoma, he still needed to prove in camp that he was worthy of a spot as a rookie, but his productive first week of camp — and focus displayed in meetings throughout his time away from the field — elevated his stock and showed the Browns he's ready to make an impact in Year 1.

"I had confidence," he said. "I had a lot of time to stay in the playbook. Did some studying in Carolina, things like that. Just trying to find ways to maximize the time that you have."

Like most players who miss multiple weeks of practice due to injury, Woods will be eased back into work. He mainly worked individual drills in his first day back and has 12 days to progress back to full strength before the Browns play in Charlotte.

In addition to Woods, the Browns have Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz and David Bell to carry the load in practice. Woods will eventually be able to join them in full capacity, and head coach Kevin Stefanski is looking forward to seeing more of what he can do.

"Obviously, you want him to be healthy and available," he said. "I think he's getting really, really close to that. We drafted him for a reason. Feel strongly about the player."

Check out photos from practices and the preseason of each of the players who made the Browns' initial 53-man roster announced Tuesday

Bell beats the odds

Safety D'Anthony Bell was one of the most notable players to secure a spot on the initial 53-man roster — he's the first undrafted rookie to crack a spot under Stefanski and Andrew Berry.

It's well deserved for Bell, who bounced around four different schools in his college career and ultimately finished it at West Florida, a Division II school. Bell was a player that barely garnered attention when the Browns initially signed him in the spring, but he forced two fumbles and totaled seven tackles in the three preseason games and was a standout defender.

Bell found out he had made the roster while he was sitting at his locker Tuesday, wondering when his name would be called by the front office and what the message would be.

The call came from Berry, and it was all good news.

"My reaction was, 'Hey, let's keep going,'" he said. "Make it true. I made it here, but that's not the end goal – to keep going and help this team get wins. Now let's be a part of the team and make plays."

Bell said he was up until 1-2 a.m. Tuesday morning on the phone with his mom praying that he'd make the team.

"I didn't sleep too much, and neither did my mom," he said. "Both of us were on the verge of just praying and trying to hope for the best."

The best has now arrived for Bell, but the real journey is only starting. He'll look to keep that role throughout his rookie season, and that'll likely require work on the special teams and stepping in if injuries or other circumstances call him to action at safety.

Whatever the work is, Bell is going to cherish it.

"Here, we talk about the team is everything, so I just made myself a part of the team," he said. "They have the standard where we're up here, and I just brought myself to that standard."

Roster remains fluid

Even though the 53-man roster is set, more moves are likely to come over the next few days.

The Browns have 16 spots they can fill on their practice squad, and spots on the 53-man roster could change as well with hundreds of players across the league hitting the waiver wire. The Browns will consider a share of them, and Stefanski said it best when asked how complete the initial 53-man roster really is:

"Like we talked about before, sometimes that 53 is not the final one," he said. "Really, it evolves the entire season. I think it remains to be seen."

Related Content