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OTAs & Minicamp

OTA Notebook: Dorian Thompson-Robinson throws, kickoff coverage and other practice notes

Browns look to wrap up third week of OTAs 

OTA Notebook 6.5.24

The Browns are in their final week of organized team activities before veteran minicamp begins on June 11.

So here are some observations and notes from the final open practice of OTAs.

QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson throws

While second-year QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was out at practice during Week 2 of OTAs, he went through the mental reps of the drills during the open practice to media. On Wednesday, Thompson-Robinson participated in some of the drills throwing some live reps to the wide receivers and tight ends. Others, he practiced mental reps behind the other quarterbacks.

Thompson-Robinson was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury following their Week 16 win over the Texans that ended his rookie season. As the Browns have continued through their offseason program and OTAs, head coach Kevin Stefanski said Thompson-Robinson recently returned to throwing.

However, his throwing schedule is not the same as QB Deshaun Watson, who has been throwing every other day during OTAs as he recovers from the season-ending shoulder injury he sustained during the 2023 season.

"Different injury, different timeframe," Stefanski said. "But we'll be smart there and just kind of do what the docs tell us."

QB Deshaun Watson practices through mental reps

As Watson works through his own return from injury, he went through the mental reps of each drill alongside Thompson-Robinson during Wednesday's practice. He took mental reps of throwing to the wide receivers and tight ends. He also went through a set of offensive drills where they drilled a play and Watson took the mental rep of the pass.

Watson rotated the days in which he threw throughout OTAs as part of his rehab plan. Wednesday was not a scheduled throwing day for Watson.

A look at the new kickoff

As part of Wednesday's practice, the Browns worked on the look of the new kickoff rules – particularly in coverage. They drilled waiting for the returner to catch the ball in the backfield before the coverage team could begin to run.

They cycled through different returners with WR Cedric Tillman, WR Jamari Thrash, RB Jerome Ford and WR Ahmarean Brown who all took reps.

Stefanski said that drilling the new kickoff rules allows the players to experience the speed of the play. Players have also voiced when on the kickoff team, how much sooner the return is for the player.

"Back in the old days, you could run 30 yards and find the ball and start to get in your lane," Stefanski said. "And now it's just like you come out of your stance and bam that play is on you. So, I think they're getting a feel for that. I think the preseason will be a big deal and getting some of those reps. I think our practices with the (Minnesota) Vikings out here will be helpful in that regard. So, it's still a work in progress for players and coaches."

Assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone said over the last couple of weeks, they have been able to drill different elements through the different phases of the offseason program. In phase two, they focused on on-air, drops, get-offs, tracking the football, catching the football and fly-foot with the returners.

Once OTAs began, they were able to line players up against one another, and have focused on the spacing and timing of the play and how the play looks on both sides of the ball.

"It's a trial-and-error process throughout this whole development of the hybrid kickoff and the kickoff return play," Ventrone said on May 30. "We're just honestly just trying to feel it out and try to come along as fast as we can and take what we're seeing on the field and apply it to the next practice, the next meeting, and to see improvement in all areas."

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