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Rookie Camp Observations: Day 1

May 11, 2012 -- 2:00pm

By: Will Burge


MORNING PRACTICE

Weeden in control – The Browns future at quarterback was very much in control on the practice field. Brandon Weeden wasted no time taking command of plays and players as the rookies took their first run through the Browns’ system. Despite his first pass to Trent Richardson in the flat being short and incomplete, Weeden impressed throwing the deep ball with ease and making some tight window throws over the middle in traffic.

His chemistry with undrafted free agent and former teammate Josh Cooper was by far the best on the team. Weeden said after practice that the two had been throwing together every morning at 8:30 am for hours and that he enjoyed throwing to Cooper just as much as he did to Justin Blackmon.

There were two snaps that I saw where the exchange from center to Weeden was not clean and he will have to work on that. One of them was nearly a fumble. Pat Shurmur took some extra time after a few plays to talk with Weeden about his footwork when taking snaps under center.

At one point, Shurmur essentially told him to forget what he has been taught on a “sprint right.” On this particular play, Richardson needs the handoff about 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage and out near the tight end. In order to get the type of momentum needed to meet Richardson at that spot, Weeden said he needs to plant and turn to move quick enough to get there. People don’t realize how many tiny adjustments there going from shotgun to taking snaps under center.

Richardson looks the part – After watching two minutes of running back drills, there is no doubt who was the third pick in the NFL draft. Trent Richardson looks every bit the part of an elite NFL player.

His legs are the size of tree trunks and the speed and power with which he does drills is awe inspiring. He explodes out of cuts, he catches the ball with ease, and he should make the offense much more watchable than in years past.

At one point, running backs coach Gary Brown, who was leveled by Richardson at his pro day, told another coach, “You better watch out, you see what he did to me!”

Benjamin needs to adjust – When the Browns selected Travis Benjamin in the fourth round, they were selecting his speed and game breaking ability. One of the knocks on him, however, is that he drops passes. Benjamin had two drops in the early portion of practice. One was on a short curl route where Weeden threw a bullet and it bounced right off Benjamin’s hands.

Benjamin said later that he needs to adjust to the speed at which Weeden throws the ball and that will be something the two will work on.

The second drop was on a deep route down the sideline. Weeden put the ball into the perfect spot and it went right through Benjamin’s hands. He will need to adjust quickly to help out a team that led the league in drops last season.

Remember Richardson’s legs that are like tree trunks? Well, Benjamin has tree branches. He may have the smallest legs I have ever seen on a football field but boy can he fly.

Defense getting after it – One of the worries in these camps is injuries. You may ask yourself, how do they get injured in shorts and jerseys with no pads or contact? Try telling 19 undrafted free agents and 4 camp invitees that there is no contact. These guys are playing for jobs and their dream so when that whistle blows, they were full go. There was no hitting but the offensive and defensive lines were definitely mixing it up pretty good.

 

Will Burge covers the Browns for ESPNCleveland.com and hosts 3 Deep, Monday - Friday from 7pm-9pm.

Follow Will on Twitter @WillBurge

 

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