As rain fell outside Wednesday at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus, the Browns remained inside and conducted a low-tempo first practice of training camp.
Players were without pads and helmets and went through walkthrough drills as the Browns kicked off the first of 17 total training camp practices. The defense and offense each shared half the field to conduct their respective drills for roughly 40 minutes and didn't feature players exerting speeds any faster than light jogs.
"We had a lot of meetings yesterday, and today, we'll shift gears and get into a walkthrough mode," Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said before practice. "We're really excited to be back and work. We're very, very pleased with where they are from a conditioning and body standpoint. I think that was evident in their body weights and lean muscle mass. These guys put in a ton of work, and I'm very appreciative."
The intensity — and sunshine, hopefully — will only increase from here.
Here's what else you need to know from Wednesday, the first of four straight practice days before an off-day on Sunday.
– Stefanski said QBs Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett would receive most of the reps throughout camp, so it wasn't any surprise to see them take most of the walkthrough snaps and work through calling audibles and positioning players at the line of scrimmage. That appeared to be the top focus for the QBs on Day 1.
– One thing that was apparent from the first round of media interviews today: The defense doesn't lack confidence. Myles Garrett and Greg Newsome II each believe the group can be the top unit in the league after it finished fifth in the NFL in total defense last year.
"We'll be as dominant as we want to be," Garrett said. "We have a lot of talented guys across the board, and I feel like this is probably the most well-rounded we've been since I've been here."
The defense became more dominant toward the second half of last season, and much of that success can be attributed to new players grasping the defensive coordinator Joe Woods' system. All but two of the starters from last year have returned this year, which is why Stefanski believes the group can pick up where they left off.
"I think the confidence comes from guys that have been in the system and played meaningful snaps in that system," he said. "I think the coaches work really well together, and I think Joe and the staff have done an outstanding job. I think that's where the confidence comes from."
Check out photos of players and coaches working throughout camp
– Newsome said he'll mostly be working in the slot in training camp, which is no surprise after he was given most of the reps there in the spring. The Browns believe he has the skills to play inside, which is trickier than the outside since it features more battles against top opposing receivers and less safety help, after they traded Troy Hill to the Rams over the offseason, and Newsome has shown nothing but a willingness to step up and learn.
"Whether I need to play outside, inside — I can do it all," he said. "Whatever they need me to do that day or that game, I'll be able to do it."
– Denzel Ward, Jack Conklin, David Bell, Anthony Walker Jr. and Sheldon Day were all on the field to watch practice despite being placed on the active/PUP list or active/non-football injury list before training camp. The only player not on the field was WR Javon Wims, who is on the active/non-football illness list.
Stefanski said he expected all of those players to be ready in time for Week 1.
– The practices will continue to be light through the first few days of camp per guidelines under the new CBA, which states players are allowed to practice full speed — albeit still without pads — on the fourth and fifth days of camp.
– The next big date to circle on the training camp calendar is Saturday. It's the first open practice in Berea, and it should be an electric atmosphere as fans fill the grandstands.