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OTAs & Minicamp

Rookie Minicamp Notebook: Mike Hall Jr.'s explosiveness, Zak Zinter's comfort level in drills and more

Browns invited seven players to try out during rookie minicamp

Rookie Minicamp Day 1

The rookies are officially at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as the Browns kicked off the first day of rookie minicamp on Friday.

"Really fun being out here with these guys," head coach Kevin Stefanski said following the first practice. "We love having rookies in the building because they're seated in their chairs 15 minutes prior to the meeting, all the notebooks are open, pencils in their hand. Very eager learners. Same thing out here. I think the walkthrough this morning started at 10: 45 and I think at 10:25, all of them were out here."

Here are the main notes and observations from the first day of rookie minicamp.

Focus for rookie minicamp

For a majority of the Browns' draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryout players, rookie minicamp is one of their first times at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. It's also their first official taste of what the daily schedule of an NFL player entails.

They each walked out for one of the first times in a Browns jersey and helmet onto the practice field and went through individual drills. Stefanski said the major emphasis for Friday, as well as the remainder of the weekend, is on teaching their young players about the system and learning more about their teammates, coaches and coaching staff.

It also acts as a ramping up period before OTAs begin on May 21. It aims to provide the rookies with a base understanding of what the system is about, what the coaches are like and what to expect in the meeting room before joining the rest of the team.

"They're going to be overwhelmed today with information and that's OK," Stefanski said. "We have time to work through it. It may feel like they're drinking out of a firehose with some of the things we give them, but that's a very natural reaction to getting new information. But a lot of it is just, there's no secret to it. There's no snap your fingers and figure it out. It's just sit down and spend as much time with the playbook as you can."

While they are working on the field and in meetings about the scheme, they are also in meetings about life in the NFL. Stefanski said following the first practice they were all headed to one of their player programs.

"We look at this as a way to be a resource to them," Stefanski said. "These are young men coming into the league and making some money, and trying to make sure that we have all the resources available to them, so they make smart decisions off the field as much as on the field as well."

Check out action of all the Browns rookies from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus for rookie minicamp.

Tryout players in attendance

Along with the six draft picks and eight undrafted free agents, the Browns invited seven tryout players to rookie minicamp on Friday. That list includes QB Jacob Sirmon, S Chase Williams, WR Jourdan Townsend, S Brady Breeze, LB Landon Honeycutt, WR Clevan Thomas and WR Tyrese Chambers.

Stefanski said they use rookie minicamp as a chance to evaluate all of the young players, independent of if they were a draft pick, an undrafted free agent or a tryout player.

"So, all of those guys will get a fair shot as we look at them and see how they do in the meeting room, see how they do out here on the practice field," Stefanski said. "I've been around guys that have really impressed in a rookie minicamp and turned that into a job. So that does happen. So, we are we are certainly looking at all these players and seeing how each of them can help us in the future."

Practice Observations

During Friday's practice, they broke into position groups to work through individual drills. As the offensive linemen went through a series of blocking drills and drills on the sled, third-round pick Zak Zinter – who is coming off a season-ending leg injury during the 2023 season – fully participated in each of the drills with the group.

"He looks good; he's comfortable," Stefanski said of Zinter. "He's working very hard with (offensive line coach Andy Dickerson) and (assistant offensive line coach Roy Istvan) and those guys. Just really pleased with where he is, but he looked comfortable today."

As the defensive linemen went through a series of drills with defensive line coach Jacques Cesaire on another portion of the field, second-round pick Mike Hall Jr. showcased his explosiveness and first step.

"I thought Mike did a nice job," Stefanski said of Hall. "He's in his stance and Jacques is walking around and looking at every foot and where it's placed, how high he has his rear end, how he's bending out of that and where his hands are. So, there's so much nuance that goes into it that he will work really, really hard at. So, he did a nice job today and we just want to build on that each day."

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