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Browns training camp: news, notes and observations from practice

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 1, 2012

The Browns held their fifth full-squad practice of training camp this afternoon. Here are some highlights:

Quietly in background

Quarterback Colt McCoy, the incumbent starter, spoke to the media for the first time since training camp started last week.

“You guys never asked for me,” McCoy told reporters. “I missed you guys.”

Yes, rookie Brandon Weeden has replaced McCoy in more than one way. Not only is Weeden taking the snaps with the first-team offense and in line to be named the starter in the near future, but he and running back Trent Richardson are also frequently propped in front of cameras as the faces of the Browns’ revamped offense.

McCoy is clearly no longer the Browns’ guy like he was a year ago, when he entered camp as the No. 1 quarterback

“Well, that doesn’t mean you don’t come out and compete and make yourself better,” McCoy said. “I’ve taken all snaps with the second group, and I’m still competing. That’s what I’m supposed to do, and I think that’s making our football team better.”

McCoy and Weeden completed several touchdown passes today during red-zone drills. Free safety Usama Young intercepted a pass from McCoy in a session of seven-on-seven, but Shurmur said McCoy has shown improvement during his second year in the West Coast offense.

“Colt’s doing great,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s continuing to improve. I’m seeing him do things in this camp that he didn’t do a year ago, and he’s getting more comfortable within our system and he’s coming to work every day and working hard. I think he’s doing a good job.

“I just think he’s more comfortable in the progressions. If it doesn’t go to No. 1 or No. 2, he’s throwing it to 3 instead of taking off and running. Those types of things -- commanding the huddle, knowing what his receivers can do and where he can put the football.”

Still, McCoy’s future has been enveloped by uncertainty. He could be moved at some point during the preseason.

“I can’t control anything other than coming out here and getting better,” McCoy said.

Standing out

One of McCoy’s touchdown passes was caught by rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Benjamin reached in front of defensive back Emanuel Davis and grabbed the pass in the front corner of the end zone.

“Even though I might be small in size, I’ve been playing football ever since I was young. Mostly all the guys have been bigger than me, so I’ve just gotta keep that mindset that I’ve gotta play big.

“That’s all a part of football – being physical. There’s not one player on the field that’s not physical. Every play is contact, so I’m used to it. I’m more than just a fast guy.”

Shurmur agrees. Benjamin’s performance has stood out since the Browns began practicing in pads on Sunday.

“I anticipated with his natural size that he might get banged around and be less efficient, but he’s done a great job,” Shurmur said. “I think he handles the traffic pretty well, and you could see today he caught the ball in contested situations extremely well. We knew he had the skill and ability to play in this league, and at least to this point, he’s doing a good job of improving his game.”

After the Browns drafted Benjamin in the fourth round (100th overall) in April, Shurmur said he thought Benjamin could become a significant contributor as a rookie. Even though the Browns drafted rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft on July 12, Shurmur can foresee Benjamin making an impact this year.

“Absolutely,” Shurmur said. “I think both of those guys [Benjamin and Gordon], if they progress like they’re doing at the pace they’re going now, then I think they’ll be major contributors. Both those guys.”

Golden opportunity

Second-year tight end Jordan Cameron continued to shine. He caught touchdown passes from Weeden, McCoy and Seneca Wallace in red-zone drills.

Shurmur said Cameron will get ample opportunities to prove himself in preseason games.

“I think he needs to get lots of reps in the preseason games, and he will,” Shurmur said. “He’ll be a guy that can play the Y or the tight end position and then also the second tight end position in two-tight end sets. He’ll play quite a bit in the preseason for sure.”

Cameron has been working with the first-team offense in double-tight end sets while Evan Moore has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

Injury report

Frostee Rucker, the projected starter at right defensive end, missed practice with an undisclosed injury. Shurmur said it’s not serious.

“He won’t be out long,” Shurmur said. “He missed today. He’s OK. We’ll evaluate him. He’ll be back soon.”

Moore, defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin (pelvis) and Phil Taylor (pectoral muscle), fullback Eddie Williams (undisclosed), wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (leg) continued to sit out.

Shurmur said Moore will be back soon. He said Williams “probably won’t be out there for a while.”

Filling in

With Rubin out, defensive tackle Kiante Tripp took his spot with the first-team defense. Brian Schaefering filled that role in previous practices.

When asked what Tripp did to earn reps with the first unit, Shurmur said, “He maybe bought somebody lunch. I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Marcus Benard replaced Rucker at right end with the first-team defense.

“He’s doing a good job,” Shurmur said of Benard. “He’s way further ahead this year than he was last year. Remember, he tried to put on a bunch of weight. In my opinion, it was not good weight based on his frame. He was in much better shape when he reported [to camp this year], and I think he’s doing a good job. Again, preseason games will be important for him as well.”

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