BEREA — When fullback Lawrence Vickers jogged onto the field at 11:45 Thursday morning, the list of Browns restricted free agents on the outside stood at three.
Vickers, who was 90 minutes late because of personal business in Houston, joined running back Jerome Harrison at mandatory minicamp. Linebackers Matt Roth and D’Qwell Jackson and safety Abram Elam skipped the two-a-day practices after sitting out a month of voluntary organized team activities.
None of the five has signed the second-round tender worth approximately $1.76 million for 2010, which means they aren’t under contract and can’t be fined for missing the mandatory camp. Vickers and Harrison signed an injury waiver in order to participate.
“When you’re not here you are missing out on information which is important information and you’re giving other guys your reps,” coach Eric Mangini said. “Obviously, I want all the guys here and learning and participating and being able to mix and match personnel groups and things like that. They’re not here, so we move forward with the group that we have and we will just have to get them caught up when they come back.”
Vickers, Roth and Elam are represented by Drew Rosenhaus, one of the NFL’s most famous agents, who is known for taking a hard line in negotiations. Vickers said Rosenhaus never advised him to skip minicamp. “You have to make the right situation for yourself,” Vickers said. “I’m very confident everything will work itself out. (Rosenhaus) just wants to make sure that the players are taken care of and we get the best deal for ourselves.
“You’ve got to prove yourself each year. Nothing is promised in this league. You have to make sure you take care of your business and make sure the people upstairs get what they’re paying for.”
Vickers said he had a 5 a.m. flight from Houston and had informed the coaching staff he’d be late.
Jackson isn’t represented by Rosenhaus and is preparing for a trip to Africa, according to his Twitter account. Jackson said weeks ago he’d skip minicamp but would be ready for the season. He’s upset that he hasn’t received a long-term contract he believes he was promised by previous regimes. All the restricted guys want long-term deals.
The deadline to sign the tender is Tuesday, after which time the team can remove or reduce its offer. New general manager Tom Heckert said last month that he and new president Mike Holmgren don’t want to make a commitment until they see players up close.
Kicker Phil Dawson admits he’s biased, but it’s only natural. The University of Texas alumnus and huge Longhorns fan thanked a reporter for asking him about rookie quarterback Colt McCoy, another Texas alum.
“I love Colt McCoy,” Dawson said.
“He’s one of those rare guys where what you see is what you get. To step in the way he did at Texas, following Vince Young, and to win more games than anyone else in NCAA history. And the way he conducts himself off the field.
He’s everything right about college football, and I fully expect him to do a great job at this level, because he has the intangibles that are so needed.
“Everybody thinks X’s and O’s and between the white lines, but I’m convinced to be successful in this league it takes more stuff off the field, and he’s got it.”
McCoy received high-fives from teammates and quarterback coach Carl Smith after hitting rookie receiver Carlton Mitchell on a deep in. Mitchell showed good hands later on a ball above his head.
It’s them, not us
Quarterback Jake Delhomme and the offense struggled in the morning, as more balls than normal hit the ground during passing and team drills. Mangini chose to credit the defense, rather than blame the offense.
“I wouldn’t say, necessarily, Jake had a bad day at all,” Mangini said. “I thought he made some good decisions on different things.
“I thought the defense did a good job this morning, so I’d like to think that some of the incompletions were due to good defense as opposed to poor offense.”
The first-team offense executed more crisply in the afternoon session, as receiver Brian Robiskie made a couple of nice catches on balls thrown by Delhomme. Joshua Cribbs missed the chance for a big play down the sideline when the ball went off his hands.
- Running back/fullback Peyton Hillis didn’t practice, and Mangini said he continues to recover from a cold at home. Mangini said he expects Hillis to arrive tonight, but doesn’t expect him to practice throughout the minicamp.
- Rookie safety T.J. Ward, a secondround pick, didn’t participate in either practice with what Mangini described as “tightness.” “It’s more precautionary than anything else,” Mangini said. “We’re trying not to get a pull.”
- Cornerback Eric Wright left the morning practice and walked inside the building. He returned to the field but didn’t practice. Mangini said he had “tightness,” too, and Wright was held out of the afternoon session.
- Receiver Jake Allen had his leg wrapped and didn’t practice in the afternoon.
- As anticipated, nose tackle Shaun Rogers (ankle), punter Dave Zastudil (knee), defensive end C.J. Mosley (ankle) and linebacker Eric Barton (neck) continued to rehab from surgeries and didn’t practice.
Sights and sounds
Reserve cornerback Coye Francies and reserve safety Nick Sorensen each had two interceptions in the afternoon.
Francies caught a Seneca Wallace pass in the flat and returned it for a touchdown, then stepped in front of another Wallace pass on a good read.
Sorensen got Wallace once on a tipped ball and made a good catch on a long Brett Ratliff throw down the sideline.
◾Kicker Shaun Suisham went 1-for-2 on game-tying attempts during the 2:00 drill in the afternoon. He missed from 58 yards and was good from 52.
The Browns are heavily promoting an event Saturday where fans can sit in seats at Cleveland Browns Stadium that are available to be purchased as season tickets. Fans can buy season tickets or multigame packages.
The Browns have new business people, who are trying a different marketing strategy to connect with the fans. The team has placed numerous advertisements to hype the event.
Every home game since 1999 has been a sellout, but the team narrowly avoided local-television blackouts several times last season. The team bought thousands of tickets at the last minute and received help from local bars.
- Rookie defensive end Cliff Geathers, a sixth-round pick, scuffled with the offensive line in the evening practice and threw a slew of punches. Many defensive players rushed in from the sideline, and Geathers remained on the field for the next repetition.
- Zastudil and Dawson are holding a kicking camp at Bay High on Sunday. Dawson said that’s how both got their starts.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.