BEREA — Eric Mangini’s first training camp as the Browns’ coach did not create fond memories for his players.
Just one year later, however, Cleveland’s practice schedule is earning rave reviews.
“I’m not going to complain, I’ll tell you that. It’s been good,” linebacker David Bowens said Wednesday between the morning and evening workouts. “A lot of stuff I’ll keep internal, but you won’t see a lot of groaning this training camp as opposed to last year.
“(Coach) has kind of taken into consideration how players feel. We do have a lot of veterans on this team and he’s giving us the best chance possible to compete.”
A kinder, gentler version of Mangini has been on display throughout the offseason, but it really hit home Tuesday when he cancelled the Browns’ scheduled workout.
Cleveland had only been in camp for four days — totaling five practices — when its players were given a chance to recharge their batteries.
“I wanted to have a recovery day, and I felt good about doing it,” Mangini explained. “It was listed as a one-a-day practice, but when guys are doing what’s asked of them, you have to consider your options.
“The guys did some conditioning, strength training, and some other things related to body maintenance, but we kept them off the field. Then we got them out of here at 7 (p.m.) instead of 8, hopefully to get a little more sleep than they have been getting.”
According to several players, the Browns’ daily activities haven’t changed much, but are taking place in a crisper manner. Those shorter, more focused sessions have allowed them to spend extra time resting in their hotel rooms.
And since Cleveland’s players aren’t scheduled to have another off-day until Aug. 13, keeping them healthy and happy campers is key.
“If you approach camp as punishment, it’s gonna feel like punishment,” defensive end Robaire Smith said.
“Coaches go into the offseason and see what they can do better, too. Maybe they found out something that worked for some other teams and wanted to give it a try. It’s good, though, because we had a chance to take our second breath and slow down after the first few days.”
The evening practice wrapped up with a full-contact drill pitting the offense against the defense at the goal line. The defense posted a 4-2 win when top draft pick Joe Haden defended an end zone pass to Evan Moore on the final play.
The offense had rallied from a 3-0 deficit with 1-yard touchdowns from James Davis on the ground and the combination of Seneca Wallace to Moore in the air.
The first three scores went to the defense as Jake Delhomme was stopped on a scramble, Jerome Harrison was buried in the backfield, and Delhomme was intercepted by linebacker Chris Gocong.
It marked the first all-out tackling session of camp.
- Coach Eric Mangini said nose tackle Shaun Rogers (ankle) is “quite a way” from coming off the physically unable to perform list.
- Defensive end C.J. Mosley and cornerback Coye Francies (right leg) are also on the PUP.
- Rookie running back Montario Hardesty (right leg) has yet to venture outside during a practice, but is taking part in all classroom activities.
- Cornerback Chris Roberson is out indefinitely with a right leg injury suffered during the morning session.
- Punter Dave Zastudil (right knee) will rejoin the club today after having his leg examined by his surgeon, which Mangini called a “pretty common” scenario.
- Running back Peyton Hillis (leg) is expected back soon, while fullback Lawrence Vickers, linebacker Titus Brown, defensive back DeAngelo Smith, and defensive end Derreck Robinson (left leg) also did not practice.
- Third-year cornerback Gerard Lawson, best known for his special teams play, intercepted Wallace and Colt McCoy. The latter pick went for a touchdown.
- Tony Pashos worked with the first team offense at right tackle, while third-round draftee Shawn Lauvao manned right guard.
- Linebackers David Bowens and Eric Barton replaced Matt Roth and Gocong with the top defensive unit.
- Wallace and Joshua Cribbs lined up side by side in the backfield in one set, giving Alex Mack two options to snap the ball to.
- Linebacker Scott Fujita leaped high to smack down a Delhomme throw at the line of scrimmage.
- The Browns have replaced Andre Knott as their radio sideline reporter with team employee Jamir Howerton. Knott remains the club’s beat reporter for WTAM-AM 1100.
- Mangini said there will be no tackling as part of the annual Brown vs. White scrimmage Saturday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The free event kicks off at 1 p.m.
Wednesday at Browns camp
- NEWS OF THE DAY: The Browns returned to the field with two practices after taking Tuesday off. Coach Eric Mangini saved the best for last by allowing tackling in a goal-line drill that ended the two-hour evening session. Cleveland’s defense won the battle 4-2.
- CAMPER OF THE DAY: Linebacker Matt Roth. The sixth-year pro continued his strong camp by flattening Robert Royal after a short catch. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder threw a flat-footed shoulder block on Royal, sending the 6-4, 257-pound tight end flying backward to the amusement of the crowd.
- PLAY OF THE DAY: Wide receiver Brian Robiskie made a gorgeous 45-yard touchdown catch on the final snap of the morning session. He fended off cornerback Mike Adams on a long pattern down the right sideline, then hauled in a perfect throw from Jake Delhomme as they reached the end zone.
- QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If you come out here and make plays, then the coaches can’t look away. That’s kind of my goal every day.” — Running back James Davis, who is attempting to make the team for the second year in a row.
- POINT OF INTEREST: Cornerback Chris Roberson suffered the first major injury of camp, being carted off the field with his right leg immobilized. His feet became entangled with Joshua Cribbs on a pass in the right flat, sending both players to the ground in a heap. Cribbs, who was not hurt, still managed to catch the football.
- TODAY’S SCHEDULE: The Browns will practice from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.