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New offensive lineman in Browns' mix quietly taking on another life and career challenge

Aug 03, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Murphy

The Morning Kickoff …

Who’s that No. 79?: There’s a new name to watch on the Browns’ loaded offensive line.

Cameron Erving? No, not him.

The versatile rookie first-round draft pick is engaged in a battle with John Greco at right guard and might be the heir to presumed free agent Alex Mack’s starting center position.

But in the first week of training camp, a complete unknown has sneaked ahead of Erving as the No. 1 backup to All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas.

It’s Andrew McDonald, a quiet waiver pickup from the Indianapolis Colts in December who has come out of nowhere to play himself into the offensive line’s seventh spot.

That’s a pretty good start to camp for an undrafted tackle on his fifth team in three years after:

* Being ensnarled as “the other victim” in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal.

* Surviving a battle with testicular cancer.

* Getting waived from his hometown team in Indianapolis.

“He’s another guy, very quiet, doesn’t say a lot but he just goes out and works,” coach Mike Pettine said. “He’s had a really productive offseason for us, and we were very quietly optimistic about him coming into camp and very anxious to see how he’ll be with pads on. Like I said, he’s had a really good offseason here and bought into the program, and we’re hopeful he can be in the discussion.”

A scary low blow: With the Carolina Panthers in May of 2014, a routine blood test revealed a tumor in one of McDonald’s testicles. Doctors rushed him into surgery the next day to remove it.

“Thoughts kind of cross your mind like, ‘Am I going to live to be 30? Am I going to be able to have kids later in life?’” McDonald, 26, said.

“I didn’t really think about my career being in jeopardy. The moment I heard it I didn’t really go there. I really stayed focused on staying positive and thinking about the best scenario and believing that everything was going to be OK.”

The power of positive thinking prevailed. The cancer didn’t reappear. McDonald’s blood markers now are checked every six months. The scare changed McDonald’s outlook on life.

“Having come through that and everything being OK, I try to keep an upbeat, positive perspective on life,” McDonald said. “Like, don’t let the things you can’t control get you down. Everything’s better with a positive attitude.”

Hazing gone wrong: Prior to the health scare, McDonald found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time while on the Miami Dolphins practice squad as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

It didn’t come out until the 144-page report by NFL independent investigator Ted Wells in February of 2014 that McDonald was the second player other than Jonathan Martin victimized by bullying during that season.

Unwittingly, McDonald was first identified in a statement issued by Martin as having been subjected to verbal bullying by veteran lineman Richie Incognito. The Wells Report later revealed that McDonald was presented an offensive gag gift by Dolphins line coach Jim Turner after reportedly being subjected to homophobic insults.

McDonald’s agent responded with a statement that said McDonald “personally has no problem with the Miami Dolphins organization and has the highest opinion of Turner both personally and professionally and feels terrible about the way their relationship has been portrayed in the report."

McDonald was reluctant to speak on the episode. He said he didn’t consider himself a victim of bullying, or even of what used to be known as rookie hazing.

“I feel on every team, there’s going to be some type of hazing,” McDonald said. “I just took it as, ‘all right, this is my first year.’ I didn’t really view it as a big deal.

“That’s why I hate to call it hazing. When you get yelled at verbally, I feel that’s just guys being guys. A lot times in locker room, guys are guys, boys will be boys and they just make fun of each other.”

McDonald said he has no ill feelings toward Incognito, whose career was resurrected by new Buffalo coach Rex Ryan after a one-year exile. The Browns will have joint practices at Bills training camp outside Rochester, NY, Aug. 17-18, and McDonald said, “Actually, it’ll be kind of cool seeing him again.”

Challenges overcome: After Carolina, McDonald’s career travels took him to Seattle and then to Indianapolis last December. A native of Indianapolis who played at Indiana University, McDonald thought it was “pretty awesome” to play for his hometown team. That’s why he chose to sign with the Colts when the Browns called.

But after two weeks, the Colts attempted to demote McDonald to their practice squad, and the Browns swooped in to claim him off waivers.

Now McDonald is in the same offensive lineman room with Thomas and Bitonio and Mack and Erving and Greco and Mitchell Schwartz. It’s quite a challenge to keep up with that company.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” McDonald said. “We all in the O-line bond real well as a group. I’m getting good feedback … and good criticism.

“It’s obviously a challenge. Obviously a lot is expected of you just because of the guys in there and the organization we have and what they’re pushing this year.”

And challenges haven’t fazed him before.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns training camp Day 4: Injuries pile up at running back

Aug 02, 2015 -- 2:23pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Grossi

Updated at 3:08 p.m.

Notes, quotes and observations on Browns training camp Day 4 …

* Reinforcements already?: Seems like there always is one position group hit hardest by injuries at a training camp, and the early lead has been claimed by the running back group. Missing on Sunday were Terrance West (calf), Duke Johnson (hamstring) and Glenn Winston (knee). And then, early in the practice, rookie fullback/halfback Luke Lundy walked off the field with a trainer and didn’t return. That left three backs healthy – Isaiah Crowell, Shaun Draughn and rookie fullback/H-back Malcolm Johnson. Draughn, the James Wilder of this camp, is logging practice reps at a record clip. Coach Mike Pettine said he is hopeful that West and Winston, who brought an injury to camp and hasn’t passed the conditioning run, both will return after Monday’s off day, but Johnson’s absence “could be a little bit (longer).” On his visit to Browns camp on Saturday, NFL Sirius XM analyst Pat Kirwan noted a history of nagging injuries during Johnson’s career at University of Miami. Pettine said he will meet with GM Ray Farmer at each team off day (every fifth day) of camp to assess player and roster updates. “Certainly that position will be the first one discussed,” Pettine said.

* Other injuries: Billy Winn, who was carted off the field on Saturday, was diagnosed with an ankle sprain. The club’s statement said Winn will be re-evaluated on a weekly basis, which sometimes suggests it could be the dread high ankle sprain. Which is still better than it first appeared ... Pettine said players generally responded well to the first day of pads on Saturday. A few veteran players on the defensive side were given light days, including safety Donte Whitner, cornerback Tramon Williams and end Randy Starks … Defensive tackle Phil Taylor participated in team drills for the first time.

* New practice jerseys: Defensive players sported brown-and-orange camouflage jerseys for winning Pettine’s team competition the day before. They were, um, different. “The original idea was to be more of the military green camo, but when we contacted the league about it, they would prefer that we stayed within our team colors, so that’s how that became orange and brown camo,” Pettine said. When reporters joked about the look, Pettine responded, “I’ve seen how some of you in this group dress, so I don’t know if I’m going to be very open to fashion advice. You know who you are, too.” Maybe they’ll look better on the offensive players. The offense won Sunday’s competition when Josh McCown completed a seam pass to tight end Gary Barnidge for a touchdown with the competition on the line.

* Quick hitters: The idea of Terrelle Pryor benefitting from the expertise of the Browns’ stacked defensive backfield to help his development as a receiver is not just talk. Prior to practice, cornerback Joe Haden engaged Pryor in some valuable 1-on-1 conversation about releasing from press coverage … Andy Lee’s punts might appear on radar at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Goodness, he hits them high and far … One throw Johnny Manziel appears to have better command of is on the quick, inside slant routes. He zipped a few in a row on the mark in one drill … Don’t write off Travis Benjamin as a receiver or punt returner. Benjamin looks quicker and more confident in the second season removed from 2013 ACL surgery. “He surprised all of us last year (as a receiver),” Pettine said. “What’s encouraging this year is if you talk to him and ask him, ‘Hey, how do you feel compared to a year ago?’ it’s night and day, and that’s usually true with that type of injury -- that it takes to that next year to really feel back to being your old self.” … Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner – the heart and soul of the Browns’ playoff teams of the mid-1980s – visited camp. Mack is in alumni relations with the club and Byner appeared at an area event over the weekend ... Players get every fifth day off. That's why there is no practice on Monday.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns training camp Day 3: Pads go on, defense takes over

Aug 01, 2015 -- 3:11pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

Notes, quotes and observations on Browns training camp Day 3 …

* Back to reality: Coaches and players know that every day of camp is a new day. Highs turns to lows in the span of 24 hours and the trick is to string more highs together than lows. On Friday, the Browns offense looked good. On Saturday, the first day of pads, the defense struck back. Josh McCown’s piercing spirals came up short on a few long throws and Joe Haden was swatting passes all over the place. The anticipated inside run drill added to the schedule on the first day of pads was termed “a little sloppy” by coach Mike Pettine. “Too many guys on the ground. I think both sides flashed what we’re capable of, but I think overall, it was just not very consistent,” Pettine said. Following his practice of last year, Pettine completed the day with a competition between offense and defense. The coach set up a series of third-down situations, with the winner earning the right to wear special jerseys the next day. Last year they were orange, and the defense dominated the competitions. On Saturday, the defense won. “Here we go again,” I said to Pettine. If looks could kill.

* Players down: Defensive end Billy Winn suffered an injury to his right knee in the “little sloppy” inside run drill. Winn eventually was carted off the field. Pettine did not want to speculate on the severity, pending an MRI and X-rays … Later in the practice, running back Duke Johnson suffered a tweak to a hamstring muscle and running back Terrance West had a calf wrapped. The injuries, coupled with the fact Glenn Winston still has not joined the workouts because of a knee injury, resulted in even more reps for the ubiquitous Shaun Draughn. “He’s a quiet kid and that’s how he is on the field,” Pettine said. “He just does his job. There is not a lot of flash there. Like a lot of guys, he very quietly fills he grade sheet with pluses.”

* Johnny update: There was a play in an 11 on 11 drill on which Johnny Manziel stood firm in the pocket, waited for the route to develop and zipped the ball through a tight window to fullback Malcolm Johnson crossing the middle of the field. Reacting behind the offense, Josh McCown jumped in the air and raced over to Manziel and patted him on the backside. “It was just a good throw, a good play,” McCown said later. “It’s a unique play when you use the fullback in that manner. Just a good quarterback play. I want him to do so well and continue growing as a player and he’s doing a lot of good things … You get fired up when you see guys work on something, and focus, and study and put the time in and take it to the field and make it happen. For me, I just get fired up (for him). It’s neat to see him accomplish that.”

* Quick hitters: First skirmish of camp resulted in at least one punch being thrown between offensive tackle Michael Bowie and defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel. Pettine was not pleased … With Joe Thomas getting the day off, Andrew McDonald filled in at left tackle on the first team. McDonald, acquired off waivers from Indianapolis in December, is impressing the coaches. “We’re hopeful he can be in the discussion (for a roster spot),” Pettine said … Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was in attendance and was barraged with questions about quarterback-turned-receiver Terrelle Pryor. Acknowledging Pryor’s immense physical talents, Tressel said, “This level is a cerebral level. You need to have skills, of course, but what separates you is from the neck up. No one will work harder at it.”

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam endorses his GM and coach: We're not going to blow things up

Aug 01, 2015 -- 2:11pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPNCleveland

Continuing the theme of the first week of Browns training camp, owner Jimmy Haslam staunchly refuted any rift between his general manager and head coach. As the one who writes their checks, Haslam went a step further.

“We’re not going to blow things up, OK?” Haslam said in response to what has become an annual question.

“I think we’re on the right track, so we’re not going to blow things up. (I) understand why people might ask that after a couple bumps in the road the first couple years. I think we’re putting in place a good foundation.”

Haslam asserted that he feels the shotgun marriage of GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine – forged after Haslam blew up the Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi front office tandem in 2014 after one season together – is the right partnership to lead the Browns to the playoffs.

“I do. They’re both quality people. They’re both smart. They work hard. They work well together. And I enjoy working with both of them,” Haslam said.

Heading into his third full season of ownership, Haslam is determined to shed the image of having a quick trigger and build continuity in his organization. It was one of the early lessons of ownership after buying the team from the Lerner Family Trust for $1.005 billion.

“At the same time, I think it’s important to get the right people in the building,” Haslam said. “Maybe we did or maybe we didn’t at first, but I feel good that we have the right people in the building now.

On other topics, Haslam:

* Expressed satisfaction with Johnny Manziel’s commitment in his second season and patience with his overall football growth.

“I think we’re pleased that Johnny did the things he should do in the offseason. It was a great improvement over his first year, but anything less would have been totally unacceptable,” he said. “So he’s working hard. But playing pro football, you have to be a pro, particularly playing the position he does, so he’s got to work hard every day on and off the field. He’s making progress, but he’s got a long way to go. But we’re obviously pleased with the offseason.”

Haslam cited improvement in Manziel physically – “He looks like a pro athlete should.” – and said he is “clearly engaged” in his job this summer, as opposed to last year.

Despite the fact Manziel clearly is No. 2 at this camp behind veteran arrival Josh McCown, Haslam said “we’ve not at all given up on Johnny” and indicated Manziel is not in a make-or-break period.

“He’s barely 22 … he’s still young. So I think over the next couple of years we’ve got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not,” Haslam said. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches and say it has to happen this year.”

* Praised McCown’s character and intangibles but fell short of predicting he will be the quarterback to lead the Browns to the playoffs.

“I think in Josh you have a guy who’s played in the league, who’s experienced. But clearly we’ve put together a team that’s not totally reliant on great play by the quarterback,” Haslam said.

He added: “I think we’ve said numerous times you’re not going to win consistently in this league without a good quarterback, and we’re trying to make that happen.”

* Declined to state his expectations for the 2015 season.

“If I had said at this time last year we were going to be 7-9, you all would have said, ‘That’s pretty good,’” Haslam said. “The problem is we lost our last five. We get that and understand it and we’re not pleased with it. I don’t want to say that.

“At the same time, I think it’s unfair to say you have to win X amount of games. Because injuries happen, schedules are harder or easier than you think. It’s a tough league. I think you have to look at the body of work over a period of time. I feel good about where we are vs. where we were two years ago or even vs. a year ago.”

* Said that a deal to move portions of the 2016 training camp to Columbus is not finalized.

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Joe Thomas: I want to be in Cleveland when we make the playoffs

Aug 01, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The Morning Kickoff …

Joe won’t go: The plan for Joe Thomas’ ninth Browns training camp is to work three days, then get two days off, the latter a full team off day.

It’s a concession to age (he turned 30 in December) and a perk of meritorious service (7,917 consecutive snaps played in eight Pro Bowl seasons).

I asked him if he found it odd that the Browns had selected heralded college left tackles high in the past two NFL drafts – Joel Bitonio in 2014 and Cameron Erving in 2015.

“No,” he said, laughing. “I know my time is limited.

“I’m not naïve to the fact I turned 30 last year and this is my ninth year and I’m probably a lot closer to the end than the beginning. They always have to be ready for the end of my career because nobody knows when it will be. But certainly you can’t just say ‘Joe Thomas will be there forever.’”

In 2011, Thomas signed a seven-year contract extension with the Browns for $80.5 million that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. The contract peaked in the first two years, and now the salary cap figures level off to about $10 million annually over the final three years, which is fairly team-friendly for a future Hall of Fame player in his prime.

“They won’t be cutting me for cap reasons,” Thomas said, again with a laugh. “Maybe skill reasons, but not cap reasons.”

A Hall of Fame-bound left tackle with a reasonable contract might make Thomas a valuable chip in trade, if the Browns so desired. I asked Thomas how he would feel if somewhere down the line the Browns traded him to improve the teamat another position .

“The optimism that I have right now, I feel I’m on a team that can make the playoffs with a franchise quarterback,” he replied. “I certainly don’t want to be traded. If I ever got to that situation, I guess I would have to live with it and make the most of it. But, I want to be in Cleveland when we make the playoffs.”

In for the long haul: There’s no need to detail the Browns’ grim record in Thomas’ eight seasons. After a 10-6 year in his rookie 2007 season, Thomas has slogged through seven consecutive losing years.

Playing devil’s advocate, I pointed out to Thomas that many Browns players have escaped Cleveland through free agency or outright release and latched on to playoff teams. Several, in fact, have reached the Super Bowl. Does that prospect appeal to him?

“Let me put it this way,” Thomas said. “It’s more important for me to take this Cleveland Browns team to the playoffs, for only the second time since they’ve come back, turn this team back into a contender year in and year out, than it is to go somewhere and latch on with an all-star team and go to the playoffs or win the Super Bowl. Because I don’t think it means as much.

“It would be like being a secretary (with a team) and getting a Super Bowl ring. Not that you didn’t have a part in it, but here I would be such an integral part of the turnaround. It’s just that important to me. It’s not as important to say ‘I played in the playoffs once for Denver, and they were a great team before I got there and I just kind of rode the wave.’”

The real Mr. Positive: Thomas is always positive. How else to cope with all that losing? But he seems more so this summer, even after seeing another change in quarterbacks and another change in offensive systems and coordinators.

What gives?

“I’ve been so impressed with Flip (coordinator John DeFilippo) and Josh (McCown)," he said. "The way Josh handles himself, the way he throws the ball, the way he gets the offense. He plays the quarterback position the way it’s supposed to be played. It’s so enjoyable being out there with him.”

Veteran players -- especially veteran offensive linemen -- naturally take comfort in having a veteran quarterback at the controls. It’s no secret that Thomas was a fan and friend of Brian Hoyer. But he has quickly become a fan of McCown.

“No matter what you do or say as a lineman, you can only have so much command and leadership in an offensive huddle, because the quarterback position is just the position of leadership and management on the offensive side of the ball," he said. "So having a veteran voice like that is so awesome, because I’m sitting in there and blocking a certain protection and our world is small. It’s the seven or eight guys on defense that are in the box. And if a receiver’s dogging it in practice on a route or in a game, I have no idea.

"But to have a veteran quarterback that sees everything, it’s like having another coach on the field. You have to have that. You can’t have success without having a quarterback like that. You just can’t. And every team in the playoffs, they have that.

“(Hoyer) was like that a lot. It was great having him. We lost Hoyer, but we gained a guy with even more experience, more games, starts, wins under his belt than Hoyer, and years. It’s really awesome.

Thomas is the bedrock of an offensive line counted on as the strength of the Browns’ offense. But Thomas knows that the fate of the Browns, as with all teams, comes down to the quarterback.

“The offensive line can only go so far for any team,” he said. “You have to have the quarterback. I think we can help Josh and be good in the run game, but you’re never going to have a good run game if you don’t have the ability to throw the ball.

“You can throw the ball if you don’t have a good run game, but never vice versa. So we can have that good impact that we need to. I just hope we can give Josh the help he needs protecting him and with a good run game to let him give us that ability to win the game when we need it. Because down the stretch, games always come down to the two-minute drive, offensively or defensively, and most NFL games are close.”

It so happened that McCown had a really good day at practice on Friday. And it was no coincidence that Thomas was smiling as broadly as ever, excited as ever about what's in store in his ninth season with the Browns. There's no place he'd rather be.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns training camp Day 2: Ray Farmer joins Mike Pettine in singing from the same hymnal

Jul 31, 2015 -- 2:27pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Cleveland Browns

Notes, quotes and observations on Browns training camp Day 2 …

* Bringing in the sheaves: In his first media appearance of training camp, GM Ray Farmer, in response to a question about an ESPN Cleveland column speculating on a possible rift with the coaching staff, agreed with coach Mike Pettine that the Browns’ top two football men are singing from the same hymnal. Farmer said his relationship with Pettine is “great.” “I mean, the guy doesn’t invite you to his summer home if he’s mad at you or there’s a problem,” Farmer said. “The reality is that me and Mike have no issues. I can’t tell you when I’ve been in some knockdown, drag-out argument with the man, ever. Do we agree on every player? No. Can we sit down and have a conversation? Yes. I like Pet. I think he likes me.”

Asked, then, what was the purpose of texting coaches during games last season – an NFL violation that netted Farmer a four-game suspension at the start of the regular season – he answered, “Again, that was a mistake on my part. End of day, I made a mistake. The reality is, there’s no ill-gotten intentions, no intentions to gain any advantage. My mistake. Rules are the rules. And because of that, I’ll pay that penalty.”

Farmer will be docked a month’s pay and can have no communication with Browns’ personnel, do no team business, can’t enter the facility, can’t attend games. Farmer will appoint an interim GM – probably either Bill Kuharich, executive chief of staff, or Morocco Brown, VP/player personnel – and have in place “ready lists” at every position should openings on the roster arise. Farmer said, “There’ll be roster moves. There always are. A lot of those decisions are made earlier than most people think. You’re just waiting for the ball to drop.”

* The natural: Nobody looked more natural running routes and catching the ball than Browns Hall of Famer Paul Warfield. Many fans don’t remember, however, that Warfield, a defensive back and running back at Ohio State, was converted to wide receiver in his first NFL training camp in 1964. So Warfield, who visited camp on Friday, has unique perspective on what’s in store for converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor. “I came here as a defensive back and the club did a wonderful thing for me, enticed the late Ray Renfro to be my personal tutor for four weeks,” said Warfield. “And in that four-week period, in terms of what he taught me, we made the transition.” Warfield, who also spent time in the Browns’ personnel department over the years, made these observations about Pryor: “He’s a very athletic young man. He’s got size. He certainly has good speed. Those are the kind of physical traits that you need to play wide receiver these days. Watching him out there, I thought he caught the ball very comfortably and well. He didn’t fight it, he didn’t flinch. He was natural. He had the flicker in his hands when he caught it. Those are all good signs.”

* Spin to win: Josh McCown had a good day throwing the ball, but also showed his under-rated athletic ability (at age 36) when he pulled the ball down, sidestepped some defenders, and scrambled for big yards in a team drill. Pettine joked, “He’s an older car, but low mileage, kept in a garage, driven to church. He’s kept himself in great shape and it’s a credit to him.”

* Johnny update: Johnny Manziel had a better day completing passes than on Thursday. Pettine dismissed widespread reports of Manziel’s first practice marked by batted balls, phantom sacks and missed throws. Pettine said, “He came out here today like any day, worked to get better.” Farmer was asked if he still thought Manziel could be a starting QB in the NFL. “Used the right way and doing the right things, I think he can,” Farmer said. “You’ve got to make sure the guy is doing all the things necessary to take the next step as a quarterback. If he does those things, he has the physical skills to do that.”

* Quick hitters: Pettine said he plans no live tackling during Saturday’s first practice with full pads, but he will devote an extra period to running drills to “establish the mentality” of running the ball and stopping the run on defense … The kicking battle between young prospects Carey Spear (of Mayfield Heights High School) and Travis Coons won’t begin in earnest until they are put in “pressure” situations during the two-minute offense drills, which have yet to commence … Shane Wynn, the former Glenville High School wide receiver, is the shortest player (5-6) and lightest player (165 pounds) in camp. He was claimed by the Browns in June after he was waived by the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons replaced Wynn with a taller receiver familiar to Browns fans – Carlton Mitchell.

* Dept. of sentences no one ever imagined would be written: In a 7-on-7 drill, Johnny Manziel threw and completed a pass to Terrelle Pryor.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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