Browns receiver Rashard Higgins makes a diving catch during a training camp practice on Sunday, July 29, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Hard Knock Life: Browns camp – Day 4 news and notes

Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins and the top 2 QBs shine at camp Sunday

July 30, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Corey Coleman wasn’t even supposed to practice Sunday and he went out and put on his best performance of this training camp.

Coleman, who is nursing a soft tissue injury, made a multitude of plays a day after having a difficult practice earning praise from head coach Hue Jackson.

“He said, ‘No, Coach. I want to practice.’ That was really good to see him step up,” Jackson said. “That is what you want to see. Go out there, compete and make plays.”

Coleman has lived under a microscope – in part because he was a first-round pick in 2016 selected 15th overall and secondly because of breaking a bone in his right hand in each of his first 2 seasons.

"I feel motivated," Coleman said last week. "Everybody wants to see [what I can do]. So I'm just working each and every day, putting my head down, just going after it, man."

Jackson and the Browns are hoping that the former Baylor star can stay healthy and shine in his third NFL season, especially with Josh Gordon being away from the team.

Coleman wasn’t the only wideout catching balls or the eyes of spectators.

Rashard Higgins, also drafted in 2016 but in the fifth round – No. 172 overall, elicited oohs and ahhs a few times from the crowd, including on a diving catch up the seam that went for at least 25 yards, a mid-air grab of a back-shoulder throw from Baker Mayfield and a short TD grab from the rookie as well.

“[He] Made plays. That is what receivers have to do,” Jackson said. “They have to make the plays when the ball is thrown. Whether it is under-thrown, over-thrown or whatever that is, you have to make the play. That is what Rashard is starting to do. You are starting to see him show up every day, which is good to see.”

It helped that quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Mayfield were throwing darts and dropping dimes during positional, 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills Sunday.

All told, it was a great day for Coleman, Higgins, Taylor and Mayfield.

Catch me if you can – Tight end David Njoku continues to struggle with consistency catching the football.

For as an impressive of a physical specimen as he is – and he’s not afraid to show it either by tucking his jersey under his pads so his 6-pack abs show – the Browns would probably prefer he focus more on showing off his hands instead.

Midway through Sunday’s practice Njoku dropped 3 straight balls that were thrown to him in drills much to the displeasure of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who let him hear it. He rebounded later by making a nice catch in traffic up the seam during a 7-on-7 drill.

“He is a young player. He made some plays but did drop some,” Jackson said. “He has to catch the ball better than he did today. That is obvious. He will. It is Day 4. He has some work to do. It is that simple.”

Packing on the pounds – Center JC Tretter added 10 pounds this offseason in an effort to give himself a stronger base to hold off opposing tackles this coming season.

“The defenses we play within the division I think having 10 more pounds will be beneficial,” Tretter said. “I worked with Katy [Meassick] our nutritionist here and stayed here most of the offseason. She did a great job of giving me a meal plan of what I should eat, when I should eat it, what it should consist of. She was a huge asset and big help. It's good weight. I can still be agile.”

Jackson feels the added weight will be a big bonus for Tretter this year.

“He plays against some of those 300-pound defensive tackles and nose guards – some of these guys are 340 – and he has to be able to hold those guys off,” Jackson said. “He normally can do it with quickness, but I think having a little bit more weight behind him will help him.”

Jackson also revealed what might be helping keep his offensive line in the 300-pound plus weight class.

“You guys should ask him about these protein muffins that he has in the offensive line room. They are unbelievable,” Jackson said. “He told me if I eat one, I will eat 10 so I have not had one, but those guys are eating a ton of them in that room so hopefully, nobody grows as big as a gorilla here pretty soon.”

Ratley returns – Receiver Damion Ratley returned to practice Sunday after suffering a hip injury during the first practice of training camp last Thursday.

“He made a play I saw in one of the deals,” Jackson said. “He went down and caught a ball. He made some plays. I am just glad he is back out there, but I will see more when I watch the tape. It is good to have all of our young players out there practicing and competing.”

Splish splash – The inflatable ice tubs made their first appearence of training camp Sunday.

Jackson is, like he did his first 2 seasons, is using the post-practice ice baths and scheduled rest to keep his team healthy and in optmal shape for the regular season.    

"Normally, these soft tissue injuries happen in the first four days of practice, four, five, six, and seven," Jackson said. "By this rotating schedule we have for players, it has helped us get through it a little bit better. Not that we will be perfect – we are going to have one every now and then – but I think it has helped us and helped this football team. I know people get worried about guys not practicing, but at the same time, if they are hurt, then they do not get to practice. It is a double-edged sword so we work through it. We make a decision as a group, we collaborate about it and away we go.”

Sunday right guard Kevin Zeitler, tight end Darren Fells, center JC Tretter, defensive end Myles Garrett, running back Duke Johnson and linebacker Jamie Collins did not practice as part of the team’s health management program.

Faces in the crowd – Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel visited camp Sunday.

Before practice Tressel spoke at length with general manager John Dorsey while players took the field and went through early drills.

The new Browns preseason television broadcast crew were also on hand – former ESPN anchor Jay Crawford and former Browns quarterback and No. 1 pick Tim Couch watched practice from the sideline.

New turf – Now that concert season is over at FirstEnergy Stadium, the grounds crew has begun installing the field for the upcoming season.

Fresh sod started going down Saturday after the stadium hosted the Taylor Swift as well as Beyoncé and Jay Z’s tours this year.

Crews have until Aug. 17 to get the field into shape when the Browns host Buffalo. The preseason opener is Aug 9 at New York.

Puppy pound counter – 4 puppies from the Northeast Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) were adopted Sunday and a total of 41 the first 4 days of camp. Since the program’s launch in 2015, 264 puppies have been adopted.

Injury report – TE Devon Cajuste (concussion), DL Daniel Ekuale (calf), WR Jeff Janis (knee), OL Greg Robinson (concussion), DL Trenton Thompson (illness-NFI), OL Desmond Harrison (toe-PUP), DB Jabrill Peppers (groin-NFI), DL Chad Thomas (hernia-PUP).

TE Seth DeValve left Sunday’s practice with a quad injury.

Up next – Practice Monday from 2:35-5:30 p.m.