Browns roster overhaul, talent upgrade noticeable Wednesday

News, notes and quotes from the first open OTA session of the offseason

Daryl Ruiter
May 23, 2018 - 10:11 pm
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) watches as quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) throws a pass during organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – It’s May.

That said, the Cleveland Browns looked like a completely different football team during their second OTA practice, the first open to reporters this offseason. And we’re not just talking the roster either, which general manager John Dorsey flipped upside down this offseason.

While it’s entirely too early to call Mike Holmgren, I mean Dorsey, for those playoff tickets, Wednesday’s OTA was a positive first step in the right direction for the product on the field.

Passes were much more accurate, receivers were catching footballs and not dropping them and the speed – on both sides of the football – was noticeable.

While it might not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, for the Browns, little things like this matter.

Baby steps.

Here are some other news notes and observations from Wednesday:

Trade winds – Tyrod Taylor and Dorsey both brushed off a report from NFL Network’s Michael Silver that the Browns tried to acquire Eagles quarterback and Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles for the No. 35 pick in the draft.

“I am assuming that at that time I was still with the Buffalo Bills so that really does not affect me,” Taylor said. “Things happen in this league that you can’t change. I have always been one to focus on what I can change, and that is my attitude daily, the effort that I bring and the energy that I bring around my teammates. That has been my focus. I really can’t speak on or let that affect me.”

Silver also reported that before the Eagles declined the trade offer, they spoke with Foles, who said he wanted to remain with the Eagles.

“Well, I know this: We are very excited to have Tyrod Taylor as our starting quarterback,” Dorsey said. “He’s our starting quarterback. I’m not going to talk about another team’s player. You all know my position on that. He’s with the Philadelphia Eagles, and I won’t talk about it.”

Best of the best – If you go by NFL Network player rankings, Dorsey added 2 of the top 100 players in the league this offseason – running back Carlos Hyde and receiver Jarvis Landry – to the roster.  

Hyde came in at No. 97 and Landry 52 on the countdown, which Landry doesn’t agree with.

“Of course not,” Landry said. “My goal is to eventually be No. 1. Honestly, it is an honor to be recognized among all of the top players in this league and to be recognized in the top 100, but I think for any competitor… Well, I can’t speak for every competitor, but I know me – I want to be first.”

Not only does Landry want to be first, he believes he already is.

“I consider myself the best. I consider myself the most complete receiver,” Landry said. “If you turn on the film, I do everything – I block, I play inside, I play outside, and I come out of the backfield. My value is that much more to the team and to the offense. I consider myself the best receiver in the NFL.”

Taylor didn’t argue when asked about his new wideout.

“He has the confidence, tremendous confidence in his catching ability,” Taylor said. “He is comfortable with both hands, catching left and right. Like I said, as long as he catches the ball. It is my job to get it to him and let him make plays.

“His catch radius is the widest I have seen from a receiver.”

No. 1 was No. 3 – Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield took his reps behind Taylor and backup Drew Stanton Wednesday, which was not a surprise.

Mayfield threw 3 interceptions – 2 in team drills and 1 in 7-on-7 – with a pair of them coming off deflected passes.

Strong safety Jabrill Peppers, who dropped a potential interception of Mayfield during a 7-on-7 set, praised the rookie following practice.

“He’s not as short as people make it seem like, but I guess [he’s not] the stereotypical 6-3, 6-4 guy that people set as their standard,” Peppers said. “But he’s going to be a hell of a quarterback in this league. I have no doubt about it.”

Earning it – Mayfield wasn’t the only high draft pick working with the backups.

Cornerback Denzel Ward, the No. 4 overall pick, worked primarily with the second-team defense while Austin Corbett, selected 33rd overall, worked at left tackle with the second group behind Shon Coleman. Corbett also saw some time at left guard too.

Hard to miss – Antonio Callaway is starting to show why the Browns took a chance on him.

Every time you looked up, it felt like No. 11 was making a play or blowing by the secondary.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley could easily go 4-wide with Josh Gordon and Callaway outside while lining up Landry and Duke Johnson Jr. in the slot.

Injury report – Callaway (toe) and Ward (hip flexor) both practiced after suffering injuries during rookie camp. Neither player was limited.

Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who ended the season on IR with a broken foot, practiced Wednesday.

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Tank Carder as well as cornerback Howard Wilson worked with trainers on the side.