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Browns rookie minicamp: news, notes and observations from final practice

By Nate Ulrich Published: May 13, 2012

The Browns held their fifth and final practice of rookie minicamp this morning. Here are some highlights from the last session:

First impressions

Coach Pat Shurmur wrapped up his first minicamp with the Browns – all of them were wiped out last year because of the lockout – by assessing what he has seen from his new players. Of course, quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson, the team’s first-round picks this year, are the rookies creating the most buzz.

Weeden, the 22nd overall pick from Oklahoma State, showed off his cannon of arm along with his accuracy and touch this weekend. After playing almost exclusively in the shotgun during the past two seasons at Oklahoma State, Weeden also seemed to improve by the day in terms of operating under center.

“I think he generally operated well,” Shurmur said. “Other than a couple of plays, we did almost everything under center, and I think he handled that extremely well because he's very accurate, he throws a good ball and we can see that he's got a chance to be a very good player.”

Richardson, the third overall pick from Alabama, looked the part of a powerful feature back who’s able to everything the Browns will ask of him.

“It's hard to see some of the things a running back's going to do [when the players are practicing without pads], but he executed his ballhandling well,” Shurmur said. “There were a few runs in there were you could see the vision that he has. And when we threw him the football, he caught the ball extremely well. So that's always good to see.” 

Shurmur said fourth-round pick Travis Benjamin should challenge for a significant role in the receiving corps this year.

"I would say so," Shurmur said. "I saw a lot of good stuff from Travis this weekend, and I feel like he will only continue to get better."

Shurmur also said fourth-round pick James-Michael Johnson proved he’s a quick study by learning all three linebacker spots this weekend.

"We saw that he could learn because there is a little bit of different learning whether you play the SAM, the MIKE or the WILL," Shurmur said. "By forcing him to play those spots, we could see that he can learn, and I thought he functioned well. We’re excited that as we give him more and more, and you add the physical nature to playing linebacker, that he is going to show up."

Reflecting on weekend

Weeden explained what he improved upon the most during his first NFL minicamp.

“I think just command of the offense, being in the huddle, commanding the huddle, commanding the offense,” he said. “I felt comfortable spitting out the verbiage. If somebody had a question, I knew the play, I knew what their assignment was. So I was able to play without thinking. Obviously the first day there’s a lot of thinking. The second day you try to get better and by today I felt like I was just playing without having to say, ‘He’s got this, this and this.’ You just go out and react, and that’s when you’re a better quarterback.”

Richardson said he felt at home during minicamp because Alabama’s Nick Saban prepared him for NFL-style coaching.

“It was a lot of fun, great experience getting to jell with some of the boys that got drafted with me and getting to learn some of these new faces,” Richardson said. “The plays are the same as [Alabama’s]. For me, it’s just learning different terminology. In pro football, they do numbers. They don’t just do play calling. It’s been fun, though.

“You realize you’ve got to work hard, you’ve gotta compete every day and your job is always on the line, so when it comes down to it, these coaches here are gonna work with you and do everything they can to get the best out of you. It’s no different than Saban coaching and his coaching staff. So when it came down to it, it was like I’m going right back into where I came from.”

Richardson then paused, smiled and said, “Maybe a little less yelling.”

Extra points

Defensive tackle John Hughes, a third-round pick, had an ice pack wrapped onto the back of right leg about one hour into practice. He might have tweaked a hamstring, but he never left the field and participated in a walk through near the end of the session. … Weeden completed several touchdown passes during 7-on-7 sessions in the red zone, but two of his throws were intercepted. Defensive back David Sims cut in front of receiver Josh Cooper, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma State, and picked off a pass from Weeden in the front corner of the end zone. Later, a pass went off Cooper’s hands, and defensive back Antwuan Reed intercepted it.

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