Cleveland Browns Preseason Live

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
5:00
PM ET
Welcome to Cleveland Browns training camp! ESPN.com reporter Pat McManamon has live updates and the latest news from Berea, Ohio.
OXNARD, Calif. -- As Jason Garrett is fond to say, the Dallas Cowboys are always surveying the landscape in terms of looking for players.

English
On Thursday, the Cowboys visited with Larry English, the 16th pick in the 2009 draft, according to a source, a few days after he was cut by the San Diego Chargers. For now, the Cowboys will not sign him. He did not work out for the team but spent time with the coaches and staff in Oxnard, Calif.

English played outside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme and had just 11 sacks in five years. The Cowboys view him as a defensive end in their 4-3 scheme. English suffered a torn biceps last season on a sack of Peyton Manning.

The Cowboys have 14 defensive linemen eligible to practice, but are always on the lookout for help.

The visit with English also continues their pursuit of former first-round picks from other teams. They signed Brandon Weeden (Cleveland Browns), Amobi Okoye (Houston Texans) and Rolando McClain (Oakland Raiders) in the offseason.

"We feel like we have a good environment," Garrett said on Wednesday about why the Cowboys believe they are a good landing spot for former high picks who did not pan out elsewhere.

"We have a good coaching environment, guys learn, guys improve when they come here. There's no guarantee. These are low risk decisions that we've made. They have talent. We evaluated them coming out of school. We liked them. We evaluated them in the NFL. We liked them. We wanted to give them a chance. As long as the price is right, these are good decisions to make as an organization to give guys a chance. Are they talented guys? Yes. Are they the right kind of people? We think they are from the reports that we have. So you give them a chance. You try to put them in a structure where they can thrive and see how they can do. If it doesn't work out for them for whatever reason you really haven't lost that much."

For now with English, however, the Cowboys will wait.

Manziel's Must-Do List

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
12:15
PM ET


video

ESPN NFL analyst Matt Hasselbeck discusses what Johnny Manziel must do to improve his game as he makes the jump to the NFL.
Thursday we took a look at Johnny Manziel and what he needs to do to win the Cleveland Browns' quarterback job.

Today, it's time to consider the guy who will begin training camp as the starter. Here are five things Brian Hoyer has to do to win the job:

  1. Play like a veteran: It's the great advantage Hoyer has in this competition. He's been there, been around, played in different systems and seen a lot of defenses. While Manziel will have to process much of what he's seeing for the first time -- and perhaps do it on the fly -- Hoyer will be seeing things he's seen before. Too, his veteran presence and demeanor could have a huge effect with the team in terms of building confidence and belief. Teams that do not have belief in their leader will struggle, and Hoyer has done much already to garner his teammates' support. Continuing that will only help him.
  2. [+] EnlargeBrian Hoyer
    AP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltBrian Hoyer has the experience and know-how that Johnny Manziel lacks, but the starter must tune out the hype surrounding the rookie.
  3. Channel his inner Brady. Hoyer learned from the best when he was with Tom Brady in New England. He played behind him, studied with him and prepared with him. Nobody in the league arrives for a game better prepared than Brady. Hoyer has tried to adopt many of Brady's approaches, with preparation his foundation. It keeps him from being nervous, gives him confidence -- about where to throw the ball and when. Hoyer and Brady still talk frequently, and whatever Hoyer brings from his time with Brady can only help him.
  4. Stay within himself. The only thing that derailed Hoyer from reaching his true potential a year ago was a knee injury. He now has his second chance, with the reality that a very public and well-known first-round draft pick is breathing down his neck. The tendency might be to press, to try too hard, to push too hard. That can lead to injury and/or mistakes. Hoyer is fine as himself. He doesn't have to try to be more than he is.
  5. Take care of the football. The same thing applies to Manziel. Taking care of the ball has to be the top priority. Even in the win over Minnesota last season, Hoyer threw three interceptions. Forcing the ball would fall under the category of trying too hard. Things are set up to give Hoyer every advantage. He enters as the starter, he'll get more reps and he'll have every chance to win the job -- all while Manziel has to prove he knows the playbook and knows the offense and the defenses he'll face. Pressing would lead to mistakes, and mistakes could lead to losing the spot Hoyer so desires.
  6. Don't listen to the Manziel hype. Because if Hoyer does listen too much it could be paralyzing. Mike Pettine knows he'll be asked about Manziel on a daily basis, no doubt far more than he'll be asked about Hoyer. The national media will descend, to find out about Manziel. The stories will be about Manziel, the video about Manziel, the focus on Manziel -- who might just be the backup while all this takes place. If Hoyer pays attention to the constant and unending noise about the guy trying to take his job, he'll be not only taking attention off the job at hand, he'll run the risk of potentially tying himself up in the nonsense. Hoyer has to just be himself, listen to his teammates and coaches and nobody else.
The final two positions where there will be serious competition for a starting role for the Cleveland Browns lie on each side of the ball.

At guard, it appears Joel Bitonio is penciled in already as the starter on the left side.

"We feel good about Bitonio," coach Mike Pettine said. "The other guard spot is a question. But we have some guys there who are competing."

Bitonio is a rookie the Browns celebrated drafting, a guy the team has the highest of hopes for. That he starts his career lined up between Joe Thomas and Alex Mack can only help him.

It's on the right side, where John Greco and Garrett Gilkey line up, that the most significant competition will take place.

Greco would seem to have the inside track, but Gilkey came on as the offseason progressed. He has to show he can get something accomplished fullspeed in pads, though, and he also has to start avoiding the fights he got into during minicamps.

Greco plays better than his publicity would say. He's a veteran with toughness and smarts.

Paul McQuistan, signed in the offseason, appears to be valuable for versatility and depth.

The final competition (along with quarterback, running back, receiver, cornerback and guard) lies at inside linebacker, where the Browns will have to trust that the scheme will help.

Because at inside linebacker they have one guy who struggled at times in 2013, and another who is a rookie.

The rookie is Chris Kirksey, a third-round pick who will be groomed inside and outside. The Browns surprisingly released Quentin Groves in the offseason, which meant Kirksey practiced at two spots after the personnel move.

Kirksey has the advantage of being a draft pick of this regime, but Craig Robertson has played. He started last season, and though at times he struggled in coverage, he does have game experience.

"I feel good about both those guys," Petine said. "Even if they end up sharing that job together, that makes both of them fulltime special teamers, which [special teams coach Chris] Tabor would be thrilled with."
video

What kind of advice would coach Madden give to Johnny Manziel? Frank Caliendo gives us his thoughts.
ANDERSON, Ind. -- There was one substantial trade in the NFL last season. One that was supposed to give Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck his complimentary piece in the backfield that he would team with for years to come. Too bad that hasn't happened yet.

The move to acquire running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns in September 2013 is not favoring the Colts so far. The more Richardson struggled last season, which was on a regular basis, the more he was criticized and the more Indianapolis general manger Ryan Grigson was questioned for making a trade that wasn’t panning out.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck and Trent Richardson
AP Photo/Michael DwyerTrent Richardson averaged only 2.9 yards per carry as a Colt last season.
Richardson was eventually benched and ended up averaging only 2.9 yards a carry last season.

To Richardson’s defense, he was thrown on the field less than a week after being acquired, teams stacked the box at times, and he was running behind an interior offensive line that wasn’t any good.

New season, fresh start?

That’s what you would like to believe.

In Richardson and Grigson’s case that has to happen. No more excuses. Richardson has had an entire offseason to familiarize himself with the offense, get in better shape and let his shoulder heal.

Richardson revealed for the first time Thursday that he had a chipped collarbone and his AC joint had separated last season.

“Toward the end of the season I felt a lot more comfortable, but the other time I was more injured,” Richardson said.

Richardson’s offseason, according to him, was spent working with his high school coach in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida, running the beaches, working his speed and learning the playbook like he’s studying for the bar exam.

“He’s a lot more comfortable,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Basically it was survival for him at first, memorization. Now he has a better understanding scheme-wise, why we’re doing things, why we’re calling certain things, how we run plays. He has a better feel for guys he’s playing with, the line, guy in front of him, the fullback. He’s obviously in a much better place.”

Richardson is expected to get the first shot at starting because not doing so would be a sign of admission of the trade not working in the Colts’ favor. Don't expect the Colts to stick with Richardson in the starting lineup for as long as they did last season if he struggles like he did last season. He’ll be pushed by Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard for playing time.

“I think through the course of camp it’s all going to take care of itself, shake itself out,” Pagano said. “You’d like to have a bell cow. We’ll see if that happens…We’ll do a good job of getting the guys the necessary reps to make evaluations. If someone separates himself and becomes that guy then that’s your bell cow.”

 
video

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury joins "SportsCenter" to discuss dancing with his team at spring practice, his similarities to Ryan Gosling and conversations he's had with Johnny Manziel this offseason.
Ben Tate doesn’t see a ton of competition for the Cleveland Browns starting running back spot.

He clearly believes the job is his. In the offseason, Tate, who brings a bit of a 'tude to the arena after signing as a free agent, said there’s nobody in the running back room who scares him.

Interesting, because the Browns are tremendously high on rookie Terrance West. West begins camp on the non-football injury list because he failed his conditioning test, but he is expected to be working on Saturday -- along with several other NFI players.

Tate
Tate
Tate, by his own admission, is penciled in as the starter. But West showed a lot of quickness and ability to plant and hit the hole in offseason work. That may not sound like much, but in the zone blocking system that stretches a play out, being decisive in mind and action is important.

Tate and West, barring an injury, will be the Browns' running back hydra, with the starter determined by who is playing best when camp ends. Tate is ahead, West has the opportunity to catch up.

It almost seems like the Browns will enter camp preparing to use both backs a lot. When asked about the spot, coach Mike Pettine said he would be interested to see how it played out for the third back spot.

Edwin Baker, Isaiah Crowell and Dion Lewis figure to be the main competitors there.

Baker finished 2013 as the starter, which says something about the team’s dedication to the run game. Lewis was the story of training camp in 2013 before getting hurt. And Crowell caught the coach and GM’s eye in the offseason as an undrafted free agent.

The most encouraging thing is that the run game is being discussed as a viable, important part of the team. A year ago, it was, at best, an afterthought.

“I want to always have the ability to run the football,” Pettine said. “You’re in Northeast Ohio. Look at the division and a lot of your games are going to be played in not-so-great weather. If you run the ball well, that means you have a good offensive line, and if you have a good offensive line, you can also protect your quarterback.

“If you run the ball well, it also minimizes what the quarterback has to do. Put the best quarterbacks in the league constantly in third-and-7-plus, they’re not going to be among the best quarterbacks in the league anymore. If you put them in third-and-2 to third-and-5, you’re going to convert one heck of a lot more.”
Johnny Manziel on Wednesday reported for his first professional training camp with the Cleveland Browns' rookies, quarterbacks and other players recovering from injury, which means for Manziel and the Manziel-watchers in the world, things get really real immediately.

Manziel will compete with Brian Hoyer to be the team’s starter, but Hoyer is the starter heading into camp.

How does Manziel win the job?

  1. [+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
    Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty ImagesKnowing the playbook and protecting the ball will be crucial for Johnny Manziel in training camp.
    Be a gamer:
    NFL football is quite the interesting phenomenon. Players spend hours in meetings, they lift weights, they work out, they practice for hours and then they watch every single play of practice. And whether they make the team or don’t comes down to a handful of plays in the third quarter of a practice game with the stands half full. Practice makes perfect, but how Manziel performs in a game will determine whether he starts. That means executing the offense with precision, and showing the knowledge required to read, understand and attack an NFL defense -- vanilla as it will be in preseason. Practices will matter, but the most important days of Manziel’s first training camp will be in Detroit and Washington in the practice games.
  2. Be ready: Know the playbook and the plays and the calls and the reads. There is not time for learning on the fly anymore. Jobs are at stake at every position on the field, and the team can’t live with an uncertain quarterback botching the plays. This work had to be done in the offseason, and if Manziel didn’t do it there will be issues.
  3. Don’t throw away a single rep: It would be interesting if every profession operated the way NFL teams do. Imagine the cashier filmed for every transaction, the placement of hands while giving change, the way he or she scans items. Imagine if the lawyer were videoed during every argument, an accountant during a tax audit. NFL players have every play, every snap scrutinized. If they mess up on the field, they hear about it after -- and they watch it. Manziel can’t afford half-hearted plays or silly mistakes. He needs to be aware, smart and careful. It’s not easy while trying to learn a new offense and teammates, but that is what is expected. There are no throwaway plays in training camp.
  4. Protect the ball: Mike Pettine is a studier of the game, and he no doubt knows that a team that does not turn the ball over has a better chance to win. Since 1999, the year of the Browns' return, teams that had a turnover margin of plus-two in a game won 88 percent of the time (per profootballreference.com). Teams that had one more turnover than the opposition won 79 percent of the time. The fastest way for a quarterback to be shown the bench -- especially a rookie -- is to turn the ball over frequently in camp and in preseason games (vanilla defenses come to mind).
  5. Ditch the parties; act like a professional: It might not be necessary to state this, because Manziel might have this planned regardless. But what has become clear about Manziel since he joined the Browns is that he knows how to have a good time. From town to town and beverage to beverage, he was a regular presence on the Internet. Manziel is not innocent in this either; he willingly posed or posted some of the photos. He can still enjoy himself, but nobody who puts the fun ahead of his profession succeeds in the long run. At this point, it’s up to Manziel to show his teammates and his team that the parties were simply an offseason pursuit.

Source: Josh Gordon had rehab stay

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
7:38
AM ET
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Cleveland Browns star receiver Josh Gordon will appeal his one-year suspension in a meeting with NFL officials on Aug. 1, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Gordon, who is facing a yearlong ban after a failed drug test earlier this offseason, will file the appeal in New York, the source told Schefter.

Gordon, 23, spent two weeks in rehab in California after he was subsequently arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and speeding in Raleigh, North Carolina, earlier this month, a source confirmed to Schefter on Thursday.

Fox Sports earlier reported Gordon's rehab stint.

The Browns open their training camp on Saturday, meaning they will have at least one more week of uncertainty regarding the status of the talented but troubled Gordon.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported in May that Gordon was facing the suspension after failing the drug test months prior.

Gordon ran into more off-the-field trouble when he was arrested and charged with the DWI.

Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine acknowledged earlier this week that Gordon's situation is "concerning" but said that Cleveland still was awaiting the NFL's ruling.

"It is concerning and you want to address it, but until we know where he stands with the league we don't know really where he stands with us," Pettine said Monday. "I've stated before that we've had the meetings, we've discussed all the options, from the best case to the worst case. And we're still in that mode of waiting."


(Read full post)


The party's over for Johnny Manziel.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsThe Browns would do well to give Johnny Manziel time to develop instead of thrusting him in as a starter.
The offseason of Vegas-Austin-Mexico-Los Angeles clubs and beverages/bottles has concluded. The social media photos with rolled bills are complete. Manziel reported for his first NFL training camp on Wednesday in Cleveland to try to become the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback. On Thursday, workouts begin. It's not exactly a brave new world for the Browns' first-round draft pick -- he did manage himself quite well in college during the season while having a good time in the offseason, thank you very much -- but it is a more challenging situation than anything he has dealt with in his life. The young wunderkind who was simply always better than those around him finds himself at a whole new level, having to earn his place in the world of professionals.

But while attention will be focused on his every move, his coach has made no secret he'd prefer Manziel not be the team's immediate starter. Coach Mike Pettine told SI.com that in his "ideal world," Manziel would not start on opening day.

Go figure.

The Browns, a team in need of a new image, excite the area and the football world by drafting the most exciting player eligible, and they want him to wait.

But there's sound logic and strong precedent behind Pettine's thinking.

He talks about success stories for people who wait to start -- Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer -- and compares them to guys he has seen rushed into the starting lineup too soon -- Kyle Boller -- for a team not good enough to support them.

That's a scenario Cleveland fans know all too well, as they have seen quarterback after quarterback forced into the lineup, only to struggle with a bad team and fail: Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Charlie Frye and Brandon Weeden among them.

The other cycle that has been repeated in Cleveland is that a quarterback ballyhooed as a savior watches as the team drafts another. The public and media -- and eventually the team -- grow weary of the first "savior" struggling because the team is not equipped to help him. This starts the clamor for the next guy. He then is rushed in and struggles for the same reasons the first guy did.

Savior after savior has flamed out, quickly. Heck, a year ago in Cleveland, Jason Campbell was briefly considered a savior. He finished 1-7 as a starter.

"It's a bad cycle," Pettine said, "until you get the team around him."

Pettine has to balance a lot, starting with hype and expectation (multiplied exponentially because it's Manziel) that comes with any quarterback drafted in the first round. But he also has to balance what he has seen -- that a quarterback will struggle if the team around him struggles.

"There's no doubt [the quarterback is] the most important guy on the field," Pettine said. "But he's so much the product of his supporting cast."

In many past years, the Browns built the team from the inside out. Start with the quarterback and hope to add pieces. It can work, but the danger in that process showed constantly as a lack of a supporting cast left each young quarterback battered, shell-shocked and fragile.

Pettine wants to build from the outside in while still working with the best quarterback he can find.

That's why in the offseason the Browns rebuilt the running game with personnel and system. It is why they bolstered the offensive line, and why they've implemented a defensive scheme that has been successful everywhere it has been used. It's also why they brought in prominent defensive veterans Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby, guys used to winning who might change the vibe in a locker room accustomed to losing.

The final piece was a quarterback to compete with Brian Hoyer. In Manziel, the Browns got a guy who threw for 7,800 yards and 63 touchdowns at Texas A&M, a guy who for whatever reason has become a social media phenomenon.

"I don't think even he can get a handle on the why," Pettine said

At this point in his NFL career, Manziel has done nothing but be successful in college. As any Browns fan can attest, college success and/or a college resume does not automatically translate to wins in the NFL.

Pettine said Manziel was a great teammate in the previous time he was in Cleveland, calling him "very humble." The typical litany of positives followed: good in the weight room, attentive in meetings, smart.

Pettine then added this tidbit: "I think he's ahead of the learning curve."

In the world of hype, parsing and interpreting what has formed around Manziel, that comment would translate on the conversion chart to: "Holy smokes this guy is good."

But there are many factors at play, not the least of which are the beliefs and principles of the head coach. In organized team activities and minicamps, Manziel had his moments but never consistently looked like a no-brainer to be the starter. He never played like a guy who immediately had to be put in the lineup. Manziel himself admitted the Browns' offense is a lot more complex than the one he ran in college, where he didn't even have a playbook. There's the reality that the Browns open in Pittsburgh and then play at home against the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens. Those are three very tough, physical and aggressive defenses that might make a team hesitate to start a rookie.

Two things are steadfastly true, though. First is that if Manziel doesn't turn out the lights, his on-field party will be over. Because he won't be able to succeed on the field if he's living the extreme high life off it. Pettine said he expects the off-field to be a "non-story" soon.

The second is that Pettine is determined to not give Manziel the job simply because of who he is.

"It's very simple for us," Pettine said. "Who gives us the best chance to win?"
It isn't often that a guy from Cleveland agrees absolutely and completely with David Modell.

[+] EnlargeArt Modell
AP Photo/NFL PhotosAny follower of the Cleveland Browns should be disgusted with the incident that took place at Art Modell's grave.
But in this case he's right. What was done at his father's grave is vile, disgusting, ill-conceived and an embarrassment to any reasonable resident of Cleveland and any reasonable fan of the Cleveland Browns. To simply be associated by location with someone so proud of something like this prompts an immediate reach for the Lysol.

It's one thing to not like the fact that Art Modell moved his football team to Baltimore and left Cleveland without a team for three years. It's quite another to be so brazenly disrespectful and proud of it.

Any Cleveland fan should be disgusted that one man chose to urinate on Modell's grave, then post the video on YouTube. It's not funny, and it's not the kind of statement anyone should support.

David Modell pointed out that the grave belongs to his father, to a grandfather.

"Can any of your readers imagine, for one second, seeing someone do that to their parents' grave?" he asked the Baltimore Sun.

"The act is so offensive, and I'd like to publicly say, isn't enough enough? When is enough enough."

He called it cowardice and "incredibly distasteful, revolting and mean-spirited."
He also said he would try to prosecute the unidentified fan, who has only a YouTube identity.

There's nothing funny about this. Nothing even close to OK.

And David Modell's question is appropriate. Isn't 19 years long enough? Shouldn't the anger nowadays be directed more appropriately at the string of ineptness since 1999?

When Art Modell died the outcry against him was so ugly in Cleveland that the team, at David Modell's request, declined to even acknowledge his death.

LeBron James and Dan Gilbert apologized to each other. This happens at Modell's grave.

Enough is enough.
video

ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon reacts to a Cleveland Browns fan posting a video on YouTube showing himself urinating beside Art Modell's grave.

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