Browns wide receiever Josh Gordon, facing a one-year suspension, has hired attorney Maurice Suh, who helped Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman win his appeal of a contested positive test, per a league source.
Suh will work alongside NFLPA attorney Heather McPhee, who has an excellent reputation in league circles, to try to help salvage as much of this season as possible for Cleveland's Pro Bowl wide receiver.
At the very least, Gordon has recognized how important it is to have such strong legal representation. Gordon began working with Suh earlier this month in preparation of an appeal that has been scheduled for Friday.
McPhee has been on the case all along. McPhee and Suh -- a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, in Los Angeles -- helped Sherman avoid a suspension when they argued that a cup with a broken seal was used during Sherman's urine test.
- Monday was the first day the Browns could put on pads, and when they did, coach Mike Pettine said he wanted to hear the practice because if he could hear it, it meant players were being physical. There must be varying definitions of loud and physical, because Pettine said he was pleased, even though there wasn't much to hear. It was probably the quietest full-pad practice in memory, as the Browns practiced at what almost seemed like a slower pace than normal. A blitz drill that with some teams involves yelling and serious competition did take place, but without much interplay and without much competition. Pettine said he liked it all though, and said the work was "solid," so there is that. #whatever
- Pettine became agitated when safety Johnson Bademosi dropped his shoulder into Nate Burleson after a reception, saying: "I told the guys that that stuff is not going to help them make the team. We want to be tough. We want to be nasty, but we want to play within the rules. We certainly want to protect each other while we're practicing." Burleson spun away from the "hit" and ran toward the end zone. #notsooldschool
- Cornerback Justin Gilbert was active, with a couple interceptions and a pass knocked down. It was the most noticeable he'd been all camp. He even took some reps returning kicks, though Pettine said that would happen only in emergency. "I think I'd hold my breath or watch with one-and-a-half eyes covered if he was returning a kick," he said. Gilbert is very adept as a returner, but teams do not like risking their first-round pick that way. "It's much more intriguing for (special teams coordinator) Chris Tabor than it is for me," Pettine said. #defensive
- Joe Thomas on whether it was good to hit someone again: "Not really, but it's a necessary part of football." Yes, he was smiling. ... Of a car in the parking lot decorated with Packers gear, Thomas said with another smile: "That could be a relative." He's from Wisconsin. ... In a mild surprise, the Browns released OT Chris Faulk when they activated LB Tank Carder. Faulk was trying to come back from tearing multiple knee ligaments in 2012 at LSU. ... The team and Jason Pinkston's agents released a statement saying Pinkston had not been cleared medically to play. No further details were provided. ... WRs Charles Johnson and Travis Benjamin were given a day of rest for their surgically repaired knees. .. Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery shrugged at Ben Tate showing some attitude by saying nobody in the running backs room scared him. "I think it's funny," Montgomery said. "I think that's what all of them would say. For him, if that's the way that he's going to motivate himself to try to win a job, that's good for him." #dot-dot-dot-com
Thomas remains ever dedicated, ever courteous. He also is unfailingly humble. But as his career progresses, he has become more and more insightful about the game's nuances and games within the game.
So when he speaks, it's worth listening. There will be no outrageousness, and no fudging of the truth either. Monday, Thomas spoke with the media for the first time since training camp began, touching on two issues of interest -- the running game and Brian Hoyer (he was not crusading for Hoyer, merely answering questions).
Thomas spent most of last season talking about the running game being an NFL dinosaur and saying that to win in the modern age teams had to throw the ball. He even went as far as to say he'd never draft a running back in the first round. Now, though, he plays for a team that (assuming Josh Gordon is suspended) will have to run the ball effectively to win.
Thomas acknowledged the irony, but added the Kyle Shanahan system -- an offshoot of his father Mike Shanahan -- would have the Browns closer to a 50-50 run-pass split than at any time in his career regardless. He said Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme is dependent on the run because it relies heavily on play-action.
"You need to be able to run those wide zones, even if it gets one or zero yards, to keep the safeties up," Thomas said. "It's when they're trying to fill in the run game that you can hit those big plays over the top."
Thomas said the Browns and Baltimore (with Shanahan disciple Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator) are the only two teams to run the zone-blocking system, which requires lateral movement from linemen and a back who can read the hole, plant and hit the hole with authority. Thomas said the zone-blocking scheme is drastically different than anything he's done, but it fits the skills of the team's offensive line better than any system in his career. That's because the Browns have guys who can move in Thomas, Joel Bitonio, Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz.
"This is in my opinion one of the only schemes that you can run the ball consistently," Thomas said, "because you make those defensive linemen run sideline to sideline. And it does set up the passing game that we run very, very well."
Regarding Hoyer, Thomas had nothing but praise. He was careful not to compare Hoyer to Johnny Manziel, or to say that one or the other would start. He simply praised Hoyer as "every bit one of the best competitors in the NFL."
"No matter if we drafted a quarterback No. 1 overall, I knew that in his mind he expected to win the job," Thomas said.
He added Hoyer is never hesitant or afraid to challenge teammates on the field, and he is much more vocal than it might appear.
"He has less starts than probably any guy but a rookie who's out there starting right now," Thomas said. "He commands a level of respect because of the way he goes about his business doing things the right way and acting like he's the starting quarterback that's taken us to five playoffs.
"I think it's that attitude and that swagger that demands respect, and he also goes out and he backs it up on the field where he throws the ball to the right person, he's doing the right things, he's getting everybody on the same page. That's just as much the role of the quarterback as throwing touchdown passes."
THE WORK: Better than Sunday, which coach Mike Pettine described generously as “inconsistent.” Manziel seemed more comfortable in the pocket, and with the calls. For whatever reason, he was less hesitant than Sunday, and he drove the ball better. His play still did not match that of starter Brian Hoyer's, but Manziel clearly put a tough day behind him and rebounded to make some throws and run some read-option. The highlight: The Browns ended the day with two-minute drill, with Manziel and Hoyer each receiving two opportunities. Manziel was the only quarterback to score, setting up a six-yard play-action roll-out touchdown throw to fullback Ray Agnew with a nice throw over the middle to Taylor Gabriel.
GOOD THROW: The throw down the middle of the field to Gabriel on the final two-minute drill was not a tight spiral, but it got there and it was accurate. It also was one of a few throws when Manziel stepped into the pass and drove the ball, which was nice to see.
BAD THROW: In 11-on-11 work, Manziel found no one open and scrambled to his left. At one point, he looked behind him -- away from the line of scrimmage. He then tried to sidearm a throw downfield, but rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey intercepted it. It was the kind of play and throw that would have had fans howling if it were Brandon Weeden doing it.
THE WORD: From coach Mike Pettine on the play-by-play process with a rookie quarterback: “You’re going to have some good ones, you’re going to have some bad ones and you hope you can minimize the bad ones.”
START CHART: On a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being Manziel certainly starts the opener Manziel started with a 3, dropped to a 1, and Monday goes back to a 3.
RUNNING BACKS (3)
Tate and West are givens. Dion Lewis was a favorite of the team a year ago, but that was a year ago. This season's staff really is high on Crowell, and he's got a lot of early looks. It might be tough to bring him back to the practice squad if he's released.
By taking a quick look at Chris Pressley in the offseason and then releasing him, the Browns showed they don’t want a road grader at the position. By moving Gray there later, they confirmed that they want their fullback to be more active. Ogbonnaya is the kind of guy teams like and need. Smart, plays anywhere and contributes on special teams.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
We’ll assume that Josh Gordon is suspended. If he’s not, add him and remove Armstrong. But don't sleep on Willie Snead, an undrafted free agent who has done some good things; he could force his way into the mix.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Gray moved to fullback during the offseason, so we’ll assume he stays there. The Browns are well fortified with the three tight ends they have.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
- Joe Thomas
- Joel Bitonio
- Alex Mack
- John Greco
- Mitchell Schwartz
- Chris Faulk
- Garrett Gilkey
- Paul McQuistan
- Martin Wallace
Jason Pinkston's sudden absence is concerning, especially when Pettine merely said "possibly" when asked if he would be back. Pinkston had issues with blood clots earlier in his career, but it's not known if this is a repeat. The Browns have built an offensive line that is talented, deep and smart. They have a lot of money invested here, but they have some good players as well.
DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
Another deep group with a lot of talent. Coaches should be able to keep fresh linemen on the field, and keep active linemen playing.
- Karlos Dansby
- Paul Kruger
- Chris Kirksey
- Eric Martin
- Barkevious Mingo
- Craig Robertson
- Jabaal Sheard
- Justin Staples
Mingo showed a lot on the first day. He'll be given plenty of opportunities to play this season. Sheard is a linebacker who will also play with his hand down.
The most interesting competition remains Skrine and Gilbert to see who starts opposite Haden. Finding a cornerback who can play press-man coverage is vital in this defense, and Skrine showed up in excellent shape and has been very aggressive the first weekend.
No big mysteries here, but Bademosi makes the team based on his value on special teams. Whitner seems to be a very good veteran addition, and Gipson is the most underrated player on the team.
No need to change anything here from last season, as all were strong and dependable contributors.
- Brian Hoyer will continue to get first-team quarterback reps through Tuesday. That’s the word from coach Mike Pettine, who said Johnny Manziel will continue to work with the backups until the team’s first day off, when the coaching staff evaluates things. If Hoyer keeps performing the way he did on Sunday, Manziel may find it increasingly more difficult to move up. Hoyer was that effective, and confident, and poised, and savvy. He clearly was the first star of the second day. As for Manziel, GM Ray Farmer said: “Johnny shows up fine.” #grabbingholdoftheposition?
- It’s not fair to say that Josh Gordon has been marginalized, but he clearly is not getting the same amount of team reps with the ones and twos as he did in the offseason. It’s tough not to read into that that the team expects a tough result from Gordon’s meeting next weekend with commissioner Roger Goodell about his failed drug test. “When the league tells us what the clarity is,” Farmer said, “then that’s when we’ll move forward.” The meeting in New York evidently means that Gordon, the NFLPA and the league could not come to some sort of settlement on the issue, which happened last season when Gordon missed two games and played two games for free. That it goes to Goodell also means that rules negotiated and agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement come into play. Some may wonder why Ray Rice only was suspended two games for hitting his then-fiancee while Gordon faces a year ban for testing positive for marijuana. It’s because personal conduct is the commissioner’s decision and substance abuse falls under hard-and-fast CBA agreements. #stormclouds
- The running back competition could get interesting Monday when the team dons pads and runs the most physical drill of Pettine’s camp: the inside run drill. It involves five linemen, a tight end, fullback and running back against a front seven. Mano a mano. There will not be full tackling, but the blocking will be full speed and physical -- the way the coach wants it. “I want to be able to hear the practice,” Pettine said. “To me, you know when the pads are popping and we’re getting after each other.” Putting on the pads also should bring a new element to the passing game, as the pass rush will be much closer to real and the coverage more physical as well. “Football is played with the pads on so, to me the real evaluation of people really starts (Monday),” running back Ben Tate said. #saddleup
- Guard Jason Pinkston was absent and the team was cryptic about the reason. Pettine merely said Pinkston was missing, he couldn’t explain why and answered “possibly” when asked if he Pinkston would be back. Pinkston had tweeted on Saturday lamenting his fate, and after Pettine spoke Pinkston tweeted that he was in no legal trouble and retirement had not come up. He referred questions to the team, which isn’t saying more than it has. Pinkston missed a considerable part of the 2012 season with blood clots, but returned last season. It’s now known if anything similar has sidelined him. #concern
- Sounding like a long-time veteran, Tate also said this: “When this thing gets tough and everybody’s dead tired you’ll see (which) guys are going to dig and fight. That’s when the team is made. Guys don’t make the team in the first two days (or) three days of camp.” … To give Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey a few extra snaps inside, the Browns put Karlos Dansby outside for a few plays. Which sounds like an intriguing notion; Dansby playng outside with his size and range. ... MarQueis Gray joined practice and returned to fullback after passing the conditioning test. He tweeted his issue was cramping. ... Joe Thomas was shown proper respect and given the practice off, while defensive lineman Phil Taylor is dealing with an unspecified injury. ... Receiver Charles Johnson remains the great unknown. Farmer said he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash coming out of college. The legend grows. ... Had the Browns been installing a new set of plays Sunday his blasÚ performance might have been understandable. Except they weren’t new. They were old plays practiced in the offseason. ... Manziel took the field in neon spikes, but changed them less than 30 minutes into camp. Players must wear team-issued gear. Saturday defensive lineman Calvin Barnett wore Oklahoma State socks. “That lasted a day,” Pettine said. “Even though they were Browns’ orange, that lasted a day.” ... Pettine added: “I’m a black shoe, black sock guy myself.” #dot-dot-dot-com
- The last word: “Nobody knew Miles Austin until Miles Austin got his opportunity.” -- Farmer, explaining why he’s not worried about the team’s receiving corps without Josh Gordon.
THE WORK: Once the Jason Pinkston situation was briefly discussed after practice, the first question asked of coach Mike Pettine was this: “Did Manziel take a step back today?” Point asked, point taken. Because it sure looked like he did. Manziel was indecisive, slow in his reads, quick to leave the pocket and sloppy with his throws. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the play was wonderful. It’s best not to make too much of this, because guys will have bad days; but on this particular day, Manziel did little to quell the critics who would say he spent too much time taking party photos in the offseason and not enough mastering a complicated new system. It’s an easy criticism, but one that will arise anytime he struggles. Manziel’s body language reflected his frustration with the way things went. It simply was not a good day.
GOOD THROW: Typical that it happened when Manziel made something happen out of nothing. Manziel did not handle a low snap but he was able to pick up the ball and run to his right before planting and completing a pass across the middle to Miles Austin. The throw just beat the coverage, and came when Manziel does what he does best: improvise.
BAD THROW: After seeing nothing initially in seven-on-seven, Manziel rolled right and tried to sidearm a throw. It was poorly thrown, underthrown and almost intercepted. Bad decision, bad throw.
THE WORD: From Nate Burleson, on how the receivers view the QB competition: “We don’t ever think about [who’s ahead]. ... I’m not just saying that here and being politically correct about it. My whole career, it doesn’t matter who’s in. Most of the time we don’t think about it. It’s not like we’re jogging to the huddle and we think, 'Johnny's in' or '[Brian Hoyer's] in.'"
START CHART: On a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 meaning Manziel certainly starts the opener, we'll take a three-times-per-week look at his chances. Based on this one day, and based on Hoyer's good day, it drops from a 3 on the first day to a 1 on the second day.
Hoyer had some first-day sloppiness, and that could have been for several reasons: getting cleared to practice fully following knee surgery, trying to win the job for his hometown team, the hype about his backup and appearing for the first time in front of fans and media.
“He’d have to a robot not to be affected,” coach Mike Pettine said. “I’m sure there was a lot going on inside his head.”
The Browns are publicly saying the right things about the quarterbacks, with Pettine admitting that both have gotten off to “solid starts” and GM Ray Farmer saying both will have plenty of opportunities.
But if a neutral observer descended above the team’s practice field on Sunday, he would float away with a clear and definite impression that Hoyer is well ahead of Manziel, who has a long way to go.
All the usual caveats apply. It’s only Day 2 of camp. Manziel is a rookie, and he should have a learning curve. The team has not practiced in pads, so Manziel can’t make many of his patented create-something-out-of-nothing throws.
But it’s also true that Hoyer is learning a new offense, he’s coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL and hasn’t played in a game since last October. He also has to learn to drive the ball off the knee that was repaired – and he’s shown no hesitation in doing so.
The tally sheet of good throws and completions for Hoyer would be lengthy. He started his day in team work with a deep post that hit Anthony Armstrong on the numbers. He followed with a throw outside to Willie Snead just over a linebacker. Later, there was a deep throw to Taylor Gabriel past the corner and in front of the safety, then a deep sideline throw to Nate Burleson. In the final team drill, Hoyer completed all three passes and got the ball out quickly -- showing a strong grasp of the offense.
Manziel spent a fair amount of time snapping off his chinstrap and turning in disgust after not-so-good plays. As the day went on, his body language got worse and worse. A sidearm throw on a rollout that was well short of the receiver. An underthrow into double coverage. The same deep throw Hoyer completed to Gabriel was overthrown badly by Manziel. Another overthrow. Another near interception.
Manziel even started the day with neon shoes -- an interesting choice for a rookie -- but he changed them less than 30 minutes into the practice because they weren’t “team issued.” It’s way too early to make any final determination on the position, but the Browns also are at a point where every snap counts, as Pettine and Manziel have admitted. This was not a new group of plays for either quarterback. Pettine said the plays were the same ones run on the second day of offseason work, as the training camp lessons will mirror what happened in the offseason.
The Browns will not be drawn into a Manziel-Hoyer discussion, and Pettine does his best not to give instant feedback on quarterback play after practice. But it’s evident the respect the coaches and front office have for how Hoyer has attacked the opportunity -- and his rehab from last season.
“I think Brian’s been phenomenal,” Farmer said. “He’s handled it like a pro, which is what you would like. He’s a man’s man. He didn’t cry over spilled milk. He attacked his rehab. He was here probably more than anybody. I think I work a lot of hours, and there weren’t many hours that I was in the building that Brian wasn’t somewhere working on his craft. Be it the meeting room, the indoor facility, the weight room, he did everything he could to put himself in the best position possible.”
It was pointed out to Farmer that the obvious comparison to that is a guy who was on the party circuit.
“From Brian’s perspective, he’s been a pro,” Farmer said. “He’s handled himself the right way. I’m only going to compare Brian to Brian.”
- Linebacker Barkevious Mingo was active and noticeable on several plays. On the first, he covered a tight end down the field and intercepted Connor Shaw. The pick led to a wild celebration from Mingo. The reason? He had dropped a few in offseason work – five in one day – and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil made him do work on the Juggs machine. This one he caught. Mingo later was all over the field in team drills, forcing an interception with the pass rush and on leaping back and knocking down a Brian Hoyer short throw. Mingo received the bulk of the work at right outside linebacker, with Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger at left. This coaching staff is very high on Mingo, who admitted he had challenges as a rookie. “I learned a lot of lessons – stuff that you can’t draw on the board,” he said. “I feel like I’m using that this year to help me be a better player.” Said coach Mike Pettine: “You could tell that hopefully the switch has been flipped.” Good enough to to give him the first day's "first star" (think the way they do it in hockey). #reasonforoptimism
- Rookie running back Terrance West earns the second star after making two eye-opening catches in passing drills. One was a one-handed snag on a deep throw down the sideline, the other a leaping, over-the-head snag of a high throws. “I had to double-check my roster card to make sure I was looking at the right number,” Pettine said. West practiced with a lot of energy. He spent one day on the non-football injury last week because he didn’t pass his conditioning test, but the next day “crushed” the test, Pettine said. Ben Tate said in the offseason that nobody in the running back room scared him, but he best not sleep on this job, because West has ability. On one run, Tate let Buster Skrine chase him down from behind to poke the ball loose; the crowd cheered the would-have-been turnover. #bearswatching
- Safety Donte Whitner was back on the field after cramping up during the conditioning test and having to be helped off after. But the story of Whitner simply completing the test is worth hearing. “We had to run 20 sprints, and when we got to 16 my entire lower body started to cramp up,” he said. “I had to fight through those last four. That last one I jumped over (the finish line). I wanted to make the time but I wanted to give everybody something to talk about. I didn’t hurt myself, but I had to get two IVs, though. My lower body was pretty severely cramped, but other than that I was pretty good.” Other than that. “Once the cramps hit, there’s nothing you can do. It has nothing to do with being in shape, not being in shape. It’s maybe just dehyrdration or something. Once they kicked in, I really had to fight through it. … I could have easily laid on the ground at No. 16 and said, ‘Oh, I cramped up.’ But I wanted to fight through it. Even though it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, I still had to do it to show my teammates that I was going to fight for them.” As Jimmy Johnson once said before a practice, let the mind control the body, not the body control the mind. Whitner earns the third star. #mentaltoughness
- Five Browns started camp on the non-football injury list, which translated means they did not pass the conditioning test, or were injured while trying to pass. They were guard John Greco, defensive tackle Phil Taylor, defensive lineman Billy Winn (hamstring), tight end Gary Barnidge, offensive lineman Nick McDonald and fullback Marqueis Gray. Pettine said it’s the price of not having an easy test. His test consisted of 20 sprints of 40, 50 or 60 yards, depending on position, all of which had to be done in a required time. Mingo and Skrine were two guys who got through the test impressively. Pettine said the others will eventually be back, though it might not warrant passing the same test – which might be tough for a guy like Taylor. #demanding
- Charles Johnson was on the field for the first time as a Brown; he was signed off Green Bay’s practice squad a year ago with a torn ACL (the Browns didn’t know at the time). Pettine knew so little about him, he watched college highlights of Johnson at Grand Valley State on YouTube. … Hoyer received a warm welcome from the fans in attendance. “I saw someone that I played youth baseball with over there,” he said. “It’s really cool for me, but like I said, it’s really about focusing on what’s going out on the field each and every play.” … Hoyer will wear a knee brace through the season. … Pettine on whether he’ll monitor Hoyer as he comes off a knee injury: “I don’t think he’s going to let us back him off.” … The coach said one of his daughters tore both her ACLs playing lacrosse. … Chris Faulk practiced at right tackle behind Mitchell Schwartz. … With Greco out, Joel Bitonio lined up at left guard, with Garrett Gilkey at right. Skrine was the starting corner opposite Joe Haden, and Craig Robertson was with the ones at inside linebacker. … Pettine was pleased with the condition of receiver Miles Austin, who was held out of spring as a precaution. … Fans from 10 states, including California, were among the 3,702 in attendance – a high for a first day since at least 2005. #dot-dot-dot-com Receiver
- Jimmy Haslam on Hoyer: “Is there a better story? First of all, he’s a hometown kid. He’s coming off an injury. We all want him to do well. He’s a quality guy and a class act, so we all want Brian to play well. We want Johnny (Manziel) to play well, and we want (Browns QBs) Tyler (Thigpen) and Connor (Shaw) to play well. It’s an important position.” #thefinalword
THE WORK: The best thing to be said about Manziel’s first open practice is that he had better throws later in the day than he did early. Overall, this did not seem to be a crisp first day for the rookie -- or for veteran Brian Hoyer for that matter. Manziel struggled early, with indecision and a throw batted down. He finished better, though, finding receivers in team drills. None of it was overly memorable, but at least Manziel can say that as the day progressed he got better. That is something to build on as he points to day two.
GOOD THROW: Midway through practice, Manziel dropped back in team drills and threw left of the hashmark to Miles Austin. Manziel made the throw with authority, as he led Austin perfectly into a 20-something yard reception.
BAD THROW: Manziel’s size will always be an issue as long as his throws are knocked down. Shortly after the throw to Austin, Manziel rolled left and just ran to a stop as no one was open. On the next he threw right and the ball hit a lineman just above the elbow. That low trajectory may be something to address, especially as the Browns head to their first padded practice on Monday.
THE WORD: Comes from coach Mike Pettine, who explains that every snap, every play matters: “I don’t think that you want to ease guys in. When you look at the new rules and restrictions on the amount of time these guys get, I don’t think you have reps that you don’t feel are worth it.”
START METER: On a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being Manziel certainly starts the opener, we’ll take a three-times-per week look at his chances. Today’s rating: 3.
He also clarified that the reason there’s such a buzz about him is that he has fun, whether it’s playing football, golfing or clubbing.
So, there’s that. It’s always good, after all, to come to grips with why there’s such a buzz about yourself.
Manziel’s statements came a few minutes after Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the team expects better from Manziel, and it’s time for the quarterback to make news on the field rather than off -- an oddity of a statement in itself considering Pilot Flying J recently agreed to a $92 million fine in a fraud scam.
That being said, Haslam also pointed out that Pilot, of which he is CEO, had bent over backward to make amends in the investigation (including re-paying bilked customers $56 million, according to the Federal agreement), and to cooperate with federal investigators. He said the investigation showed people had made mistakes in his company “and it cost all of us dearly.”
“So we’re glad to get this chapter behind us and move on,” Haslam said, adding: “Today needs to be about the Browns.”
In a sort of similar way, Manziel is trying to do the same -- put the offseason of Internet photos and sprayed champagne behind him and concentrate on football. It’s why he was drafted in the first round, after all.
Saturday was the first training camp practice open to the fans and media, and though neither Brian Hoyer nor Manziel did a lot to distinguish himself, they both had moments and earned cheers from the crowd, which arrived early with many of them wearing No. 2 jerseys. Yes, some were recycled from the Tim Couch days.
Manziel has admitted repeatedly his biggest challenge is with the system. He believes in his physical abilities, but he has to go from what he called a simpler system at Texas A&M to a complex one in Cleveland.
“It’s not two short little plays anymore,” he said. “You have a lot to a play call. You have a lot to read. You have a lot of different things that weren’t asked of me at [Texas] A&M. You have to deal with protections. You have to deal with certain things.”
On his first throw in team drills, with a simulated rush because the Browns weren’t in pads, Manziel waited too long and threw incomplete. A few more incompletions followed. He later had to bring the team back to the huddle because he didn’t get the play called. He later rolled left and had nobody to throw to so the play stopped, and he followed that with a ball that was tipped at the line.
The longer practice went the more throws he completed, with the highlight a 20-yard cross to Miles Austin on the left sideline. If it’s good to end well, Manziel did, completing throws in the final team drill -- playing mostly with the second team.
Manziel admits that things will come fast now that training camp has started, and that he’s noticed a different intensity from the offseason. At the team meeting, a countdown already had started of days remaining until the opener (it’s 42 days).
“It’s getting real now,” Manziel said.
Ditto for Brian Hoyer, who also had some less-than-stellar moments. He started in position drills throwing high and wide to uncovered receivers, but rebounded to find Jordan Cameron past a linebacker. In team drills, there was another completion down the field to Cameron -- though safety Tashaun Gipson pulled off -- but another that was into coverage, tipped and intercepted by Gipson. A short dumpoff to the fullback couldn’t even get past the long arm of Barkevious Mingo. Hoyer also collided with Cameron as he dropped back to pass, resulting in a fumble.
"I thought they both did some real good things that highlighted what they do well and they both made some mistakes," coach Mike Pettine said. "Some of it’s not necessarily their fault—a receiver going the wrong way. I thought it was a solid start for both of them.”
It’s possible both quarterbacks were over-anxious for the first public practice, and no judgments should be drawn on one practice regardless. Hoyer is coming off a knee injury, Manziel is a rookie and both are learning a new system. They will need time.
But Pettine also made clear that at this point every snap, every rep and every throw matters.
“Why wouldn’t it?” he said.
At that point the team headed inside for lunch and an afternoon of meetings, study and learning from watching the tape. At this point, the floating swans and investigations are mere sideshow when it comes to the team, because now it’s about what happens on the field.
Day 1 was a start for the Browns and Manziel. As far as starts go, the best thing about it is there’s a Day 2.
BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the team never discussed the option of releasing Josh Gordon, but players like Gordon need to understand they are accountable to the team and fans.
Gordon is facing a minimum one-year ban for failing an offseason drug test, and also was arrested for a DWI this offseason. His hearing in front of commissioner Roger Goodell is set for Aug. 1.
On the team's first day of open training camp practice, Gordon got very little time with the starters.
"The league prohibits us from commenting on these situations," Haslam said Saturday. "I'll say this. First and foremost, we care about our players and want our players to take care of themselves and make good decisions, and we're going to do everything we can to support [them].
"At the same time, the players have to understand they're accountable to themselves, to their teammates, to the front office, and to our fans. People have to understand that, and I'll leave it at that."
Asked if releasing Gordon was ever an option, Haslam simply said, "No."
Haslam also said the Browns "expect better" than they got from rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel this offseason, when photos of him partying were Internet staples.
"I think Johnny said it well," Haslam said. "He made some rookie mistakes. The really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field. Hopefully Johnny can look at guys like LeBron [James] and [Tom] Brady and Peyton [Manning] and [Derek] Jeter and pattern [himself] after those guys who make their news on the field, not off the field."