Browns receiver Jarvis Landry catches a pass during drills on Aug. 4, 2018.

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Hard Knock Life: Browns camp comes to a close

That’s a wrap: a look back at the last 4 weeks

August 21, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns wrapped up training camp Tuesday quietly.

After 18 practices the focus begins to shift towards the regular season as the roster slowly comes into focus.  

Here’s a look at some of the standouts over the last 4 weeks.

Offensive MVP – Jarvis Landry. Landry dropped 2, maybe 3 passes – total – the entire camp. The Browns have had receivers do that in a single drill or series on a regular basis almost annually until his arrival. His talent, work ethic and leadership provide hope that better days are finally on the horizon.

Defensive MVP – Myles Garrett. Garrett is a physical specimen and if he can stay healthy, he is going to be a lot of fun to watch terrorize opposing quarterbacks this season. The no contact rule for quarterbacks saved Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield on multiple occasions.

Rookie of the camp – Denzel Ward. Ward, selected fourth overall in April, has not disappointed and has earned a starting job Week 1 against the Steelers. Should Ward remain healthy, he has perennial Pro Bowler written all over him.  

Team player award – Joel Bitonio. Bitonio established himself as one of the best left guards in the game through his first 4 NFL seasons, but with the retirement of Joe Thomas combined with no other viable option internally, has taken over at left tackle. He remains a work in progress at the position but the sacrifice of stepping out of his own comfort zone to play the most important position on the line is admirable.

Most improved player – David Njoku. Following an early practice of camp that saw Njoku drop passes, the question of whether he’d ever catch on started to be asked. Then something clicked. Njoku started catching footballs consistently – with the occasional drop here and there, but the work he’s put in behind the scenes is paying off on the field as evidenced by the 2 touchdowns he caught in the preseason opener against the Giants.

Most disappointing player – Shon Coleman. It took 8 practices for the Browns to figure out that Coleman, selected in the third round in 2016, just won’t cut it at left tackle if they planned to keep Tyrod Taylor alive in 2018. He’s been taking reps with the third team at right tackle.

Camp scare – EJ Gaines. When the cornerback went down in a heap on Aug. 19, it appeared the team suffered their most significant injury of camp. Thankfully tests revealed just a sprained right knee and he is expected to return in a few weeks instead of having his season end because of a dreaded torn knee ligament.  

Best fight – Aug. 14: Jarvis Landry v Terrance Mitchell. Landry caught a slant from Tyrod Taylor and defensive back Terrance Mitchell grabbed him from behind. As Landry went to the ground Mitchell went over him upright, which did not sit well with the receiver. Landry popped up and fired the football at Mitchell’s head setting off what was the third dust-up of the day as players and coaches rushed in to restore order.  

Surprise move – Corey Coleman traded to Buffalo. Coleman was having a forgettable camp with assistant coaches constantly yelling at him while he half-heartedly ran routes and dropped passes, so he was already on the bubble before the Browns surprised everyone by trading the 2016 15th overall pick to the Bills for a 2020 seventh-round pick. It was later learned in the second episode of Hard Knocks that Coleman challenged Hue Jackson about being demoted and then said trade me. Dreams do come true.

And the Oscar goes to – Baker Mayfield. Mayfield’s impersonation of general manager John Dorsey for the team’s ‘Rookie Show’ went viral, and it was spot on, right down to the gum chewing, costume and walk. If Mayfield can live up to the No. 1 pick in the draft billing Dorsey and the Browns believe him capable of being on the field, Mayfield has superstar written all over him. He could be bigger than Bernie Kosar.

Camp quote – Bob Wylie, offensive line coach. “That’s the last. Like if you’re going to go A down, that would be Z,” Wylie said on July 29th about potentially moving Joel Bitonio to left tackle. 3 days later, Bitonio was moved to left tackle. 

Getting social – From ‘The Office’ spoof to Mayfield’s Dorsey impersonation to the daily promotions of the ‘Puppy Pound’ at camp, the team’s social media and multimedia departments deserve a standing ovation for creativity.

Up next – Preseason Game No. 3: Thursday night vs Philadelphia at 7:30.