Browns Camp Report: Day 1

BEREA, Ohio – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Cleveland Browns training camp:

  • Linebacker Barkevious Mingo was active and noticeable on several plays. On the first, he covered a tight end down the field and intercepted Connor Shaw. The pick led to a wild celebration from Mingo. The reason? He had dropped a few in offseason work – five in one day – and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil made him do work on the Juggs machine. This one he caught. Mingo later was all over the field in team drills, forcing an interception with the pass rush and on leaping back and knocking down a Brian Hoyer short throw. Mingo received the bulk of the work at right outside linebacker, with Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger at left. This coaching staff is very high on Mingo, who admitted he had challenges as a rookie. “I learned a lot of lessons – stuff that you can’t draw on the board,” he said. “I feel like I’m using that this year to help me be a better player.” Said coach Mike Pettine: “You could tell that hopefully the switch has been flipped.” Good enough to to give him the first day's "first star" (think the way they do it in hockey). #reasonforoptimism

  • Rookie running back Terrance West earns the second star after making two eye-opening catches in passing drills. One was a one-handed snag on a deep throw down the sideline, the other a leaping, over-the-head snag of a high throws. “I had to double-check my roster card to make sure I was looking at the right number,” Pettine said. West practiced with a lot of energy. He spent one day on the non-football injury last week because he didn’t pass his conditioning test, but the next day “crushed” the test, Pettine said. Ben Tate said in the offseason that nobody in the running back room scared him, but he best not sleep on this job, because West has ability. On one run, Tate let Buster Skrine chase him down from behind to poke the ball loose; the crowd cheered the would-have-been turnover. #bearswatching

  • Safety Donte Whitner was back on the field after cramping up during the conditioning test and having to be helped off after. But the story of Whitner simply completing the test is worth hearing. “We had to run 20 sprints, and when we got to 16 my entire lower body started to cramp up,” he said. “I had to fight through those last four. That last one I jumped over (the finish line). I wanted to make the time but I wanted to give everybody something to talk about. I didn’t hurt myself, but I had to get two IVs, though. My lower body was pretty severely cramped, but other than that I was pretty good.” Other than that. “Once the cramps hit, there’s nothing you can do. It has nothing to do with being in shape, not being in shape. It’s maybe just dehyrdration or something. Once they kicked in, I really had to fight through it. … I could have easily laid on the ground at No. 16 and said, ‘Oh, I cramped up.’ But I wanted to fight through it. Even though it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, I still had to do it to show my teammates that I was going to fight for them.” As Jimmy Johnson once said before a practice, let the mind control the body, not the body control the mind. Whitner earns the third star. #mentaltoughness

  • Five Browns started camp on the non-football injury list, which translated means they did not pass the conditioning test, or were injured while trying to pass. They were guard John Greco, defensive tackle Phil Taylor, defensive lineman Billy Winn (hamstring), tight end Gary Barnidge, offensive lineman Nick McDonald and fullback Marqueis Gray. Pettine said it’s the price of not having an easy test. His test consisted of 20 sprints of 40, 50 or 60 yards, depending on position, all of which had to be done in a required time. Mingo and Skrine were two guys who got through the test impressively. Pettine said the others will eventually be back, though it might not warrant passing the same test – which might be tough for a guy like Taylor. #demanding

  • Receiver Charles Johnson was on the field for the first time as a Brown; he was signed off Green Bay’s practice squad a year ago with a torn ACL (the Browns didn’t know at the time). Pettine knew so little about him, he watched college highlights of Johnson at Grand Valley State on YouTube. … Hoyer received a warm welcome from the fans in attendance. “I saw someone that I played youth baseball with over there,” he said. “It’s really cool for me, but like I said, it’s really about focusing on what’s going out on the field each and every play.” … Hoyer will wear a knee brace through the season. … Pettine on whether he’ll monitor Hoyer as he comes off a knee injury: “I don’t think he’s going to let us back him off.” … The coach said one of his daughters tore both her ACLs playing lacrosse. … Chris Faulk practiced at right tackle behind Mitchell Schwartz. … With Greco out, Joel Bitonio lined up at left guard, with Garrett Gilkey at right. Skrine was the starting corner opposite Joe Haden, and Craig Robertson was with the ones at inside linebacker. … Pettine was pleased with the condition of receiver Miles Austin, who was held out of spring as a precaution. … Fans from 10 states, including California, were among the 3,702 in attendance – a high for a first day since at least 2005. #dot-dot-dot-com

  • Jimmy Haslam on Hoyer: “Is there a better story? First of all, he’s a hometown kid. He’s coming off an injury. We all want him to do well. He’s a quality guy and a class act, so we all want Brian to play well. We want Johnny (Manziel) to play well, and we want (Browns QBs) Tyler (Thigpen) and Connor (Shaw) to play well. It’s an important position.” #thefinalword