BEREA, Ohio — New Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney looked fast and explosive in his first practice with his new team, and his first one since surgery to repair a torn meniscus last season.
Signed to a one-year free agent deal worth $8 million plus $2 million more in incentives, Clowney participated in all drills on the first day of minicamp, including 11-on-11s. During the 11-on-11 periods, Myles Garrett was excused by coach Kevin Stefanski, and Porter Gustin worked in his place.
Clowney (6-foot-5, 255), who looked trim and fit, appeared powerful attacking the blocking sleds and also looked 100% healthy as he tore his way through the blocking dummies. Clowney, who wasn’t here for organized team activities the past two weeks, spent plenty of time talking to Garrett between drills, and also getting to know some of the other defensive lineman, including fellow new defensive end Takk McKinley.
“Jadeveon and Takk, they were meeting some guys for the first time today,’’ Stefanski said. “I thought it was really good for those guys to be around each other. We got a lot done just in terms of team building, strengthening relationships and meeting new players. Particularly the defensive line, I think it’s a competitive group. (Defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin and (assistant defensive line) Coach (Jeremy) Garrett push them, and I think you see in their individual drills they are having fun. It’s a high-energy group.”
Clowney, who was reluctant to sign with the Browns last season despite their heavy pursuit, looked like he fit right in and was having fun in the light, no-contact workout. The two interior linemen working with the ones Tuesday were Malik Jackson and Andrew Billings.
McKinley working hard
With fierce competition on the defensive line, McKinley has come in ready to work. During bag drills, he lost his footing on a turn, and chastised himself. McKinley also looks in great shape and seems determined to make a case for playing time. Garrett and Clowney will start, with McKinley and Gustin rotating in. Second-year pro Curtis Weaver, claimed via waivers from the Dolphins last year, will also try to stand out this camp.
Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit work in 11-on-11s
Cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) and safety Grant Delpit (Achilles) both worked in 11-on-11s Tuesday, which was a welcome sight for the Browns. Both players missed all of last season, and are on track to be fully healthy for training camp.
Both players worked with the ones at times, and both will battle for the starting jobs they were slated to have last season. Williams’ biggest challenger is No. 26 overall pick Greg Newsome II, and Delpit’s is Ronnie Harrison.
Callie Brownson will be back for training camp
Browns Chief of Staff Callie Brownson, currently suspended by the Browns for operating a vehicle while impaired on May 27, will be back for training camp, Stefanski said. He declined to provide further details.
Sheldon Richardson signs with the Vikings
Richardson, whom the Browns tried to bring back, signed a one-year deal with the Vikings on Tuesday worth $3.6 million, and up to $4.35 million with incentives, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The Browns are believed to have made Richardson a higher offer, but it wasn’t about the money for him, a source said. The Browns terminated his contract on April 16 after they signed Clowney, which saved them $12 million on the salary cap. Richardson returns to Minnesota, where he notched 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2018.
He said the Vikings first reached out a couple of weeks ago, but he told them he was waiting to hear back from the Browns, who acknowledged since April they’d like to have him back.
“You know, I started something there,’’ he said, via the Vikings website. “Honestly, just couldn’t come to an agreement with what I wanted from Cleveland. And me being cool with the organization here and knowing everything with what [coach Mike Zimmer] and [co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson] bring to the table for me, they put me in position to make plays earlier in my career. It was a perfect fit.’’
Stefanski presented with his PFWA NFL Coach of the Year Award
Stefanski formally received his award after practice from PFWA president Lindsay Jones, who joked that she knows he doesn’t like to talk about 2020.
“I appreciate that,’’ Stefanski said. “As you know, I don’t want to talk about 2020, but in this instance, it gives me an opportunity to talk about our players and our coaches. As everybody knows, I thought they did an outstanding job last year in tough circumstances, and they never blinked. They made me look good. I appreciate the recognition for our staff and for our players.’’
Jarvis Landry and Donovan People-Jones
With Odell Beckham Jr. sitting out team drills, Landry and Peoples-Jones most often lined up with the starters in two-receiver sets. The Browns have excellent competition at receiver this season, with Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, JoJo Natson, third-round pick Anthony Schwartz and Peoples-Jones all vying for time behind Landry and Beckham, who appears on track to start the season or be ready early on.
Idle on the first day of minicamp were Schwartz (soft tissue injury), fifth-round linebacker Tony Fields II (foot), defensive tackle Malik McDowell (hamstring) and offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (knee and quad surgery).
Stefanski on the slow pace of team drills
Stefanski described the slow pace of 11-on-11 drills in minicamp.
“We’re trying to be really smart about our pace, particularly when we’re in team periods,’’ he said. “The days of going full speed in those periods, it just doesn’t make sense. There is injury data to back that up, and just thinking about helmets and shoulders, the guys are not wearing shoulder pads so it is hard to protect themselves.
“We feel like we can go full speed in individual to work on our technique, and we can go full speed in seven-on-seven and take care of each other and stay away from collisions. When we get to those team drills, we are really putting an emphasis on alignment, assignment and communication, and then we are just going to slow it down post-snap.”
He also explained that training camp will include a ramp-up period again.
“Early on, we’re only going to be in helmets and then the pads will come on and start to progress into what looks like a normal team drill,’’ he said. “I just think that’s part of us taking in all of the information and making sure we get really, really good work in without exposing any of the guys to undue injury.”
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