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Browns training camp: News, notes and observations from practice

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 12, 2012

The Browns held their 12th full-squad practice of training camp this afternoon. Here are some highlights from practice and subsequent interviews:

Injuries mount

Fifteen players did not practice because of injuries. That’s about 17 percent of the team’s 90-man roster.

“Of course, I don’t want anybody to be injured,” Shurmur said. “Anytime we don’t have guys that are at practice, it keeps them from getting one day better on the practice field. So we’ve got to find ways to keep them going.”

The following players sat out: wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), strong safety Usama Young (reported hamstring), running back Trent Richardson (recent knee surgery), fullback Eddie Williams (undisclosed), weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (torn right Achilles tendon), middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (reported shoulder soreness), defensive end Marcus Benard (undisclosed), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee), wide receiver Travis Benjamin (Shurmur cited soreness), tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed), tight end Jordan Cameron (back), defensive end Frostee Rucker (undisclosed), defensive tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral surgery in May) and strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (Shurmur cited soreness).

Shurmur declined to give a timetable for when Massaquoi, Patterson, Paxson and Cameron are expected to return. All four of them were hurt Friday in the Browns’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.

“It’s hard to tell when those guys will all be back,” Shurmur said. “They got nicked up in the game and we’ll see.”

Young, Watson, Cameron, Rucker and Taylor worked out on exercise bikes at the beginning of practice. Jackson stretched as practice started and watched the action from the field. The other nine players did not attend practice.

With Patterson out, rookie Trevin Wade worked as the first-team defense’s nickel corner. Wade caught the coaching staff’s attention in recent practices and against the Lions.

“I thought he did a good job,” Shurmur said. “They tried a double move on him. He was right there. They tried to throw a deep ball on him. He was right there. From what I could tell, he played pretty well. Then when I went back and watched the game in detail, it held up that way. He’s making good progress. He has a very, very good feel from the game, and I think it showed up the other night.”

Other players who filled in for injured teammates and practiced with the starters during team drills are tight end Alex Smith (Watson and Cameron), rookie wide receiver Gordon (Massaquoi), rookie defensive tackle John Hughes (Taylor and Paxson), defensive end Emmanuel Stephens (Rucker), rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson (Fujita), undrafted rookie linebacker L.J. Fort (Jackson) and running back Montario Hardesty (Richardson).

Earlier dress rehearsal

The Browns will use their second preseason game Thursday night on the road against the Green Bay Packers as their dress rehearsal. The third exhibition game is usually designated as the dress rehearsal, but the Browns will face the Philadelphia Eagles in that preseason game and again in the regular-season opener on Sept. 9. Obviously neither team wants to give any secrets away in the preseason.

As a result, Shurmur said the Browns’ starters will play the first half against the Packers.

“The guys that will line up as the ones will play half the game this week, and that’s typical of what happens in most of the third games,” he said. “So the uniqueness of our year is it’s Philadelphia [in the third preseason game and in] our opener. So the guys are lining up as the ones will play around a half this week.”

Need motivation?

Shurmur pulled Gordon out of an 11-on-11 drill and replaced him with wide receiver Rod Windsor after Gordon didn’t run hard during a fade route. The next play, Windsor ran the fade and caught a deep pass from quarterback Colt McCoy.

Without talking about that sequence specifically, Shurmur said Gordon, whom the Browns picked in the second round of the supplemental draft on July 12, needs encouragement at times. Gordon didn’t have a catch in his NFL debut against the Lions.

“He’s a rookie in the NFL and so he learns everything by doing it,” Shurmur said. “He’s an extremely talented guy, but he needs to do it. He needs to be inspired and motivated and you know his first game was a little bit like I might have expected. I think when you play in a game as opposed to practice, the speed and the urgency and all the stuff just tends to pick up just a little bit, and I would anticipate that as he plays his way through these preseason [games], he’ll get better and better.”

Gordon didn’t disagree with Shurmur’s assessment.

“I’d like to say I’m a self-motivated kind of guy, but hearing it from my teammates and hearing it from my coaches definitely helps as well ‘cause it just shows that they actually do really care and they do want the best out of you and want to bring the best out of you,” Gordon said. “I’m glad they do it. It’s necessary for a lot of times ‘cause sometimes you get tired and you get down and might miss a play or mess up and you might need some of that confidence to boost you back up to go out there and do it again.”

Gordon said his left quadriceps, which he pulled July 10 during his pro day, is no longer giving him any problems.

“It was awhile ago going into camp and whatnot, but I was still practicing full go and just every day slowly progressing on it,” Gordon said. “But now it’s definitely 100 percent.”

He also said he was disappointed with his performance against the Lions and is aiming to become more aggressive.

Twitter trouble

Shurmur reiterated what he said Friday after the game: Massaquoi suffered a concussion after catching a 12-yard pass on the Browns’ first offensive play.

After the game, a fan used Twitter to ask Massaquoi if he suffered a concussion. Massaquoi replied by writing, “No! Precautionary! Can’t wait to get back to work!”

When asked to clear it all up today, Shurmur said: “I told you what happened and that’s what happened. … He had a concussion and we’re treating as so.”

Shurmur then made it clear he wishes his players wouldn’t use Twitter.

“Yeah, I don’t like [tweets],” Shurmur said. “That’s my policy. I encourage them not to and I think it’s important that they don’t. I don’t think you can totally harness social media. I’ve come to that realization. But what I can do is encourage and inspire them to be very professional and not talk about Browns business. That’s just my feeling on it.”

Shurmur, though, said he doesn’t plan to ban his players from tweeting.

“No, I’m not gonna sit here and pick a fight with Twitter,” Shurmur said. “I don’t want to do that because I want to deal with our guys as professionals. I want to deal with them as men. And that’s part of society at this point – social media. I think it’s important that I encourage them and inspire them not to do it and if you ask me a question about what happened in the game and I tell you the process, then that’s how it happened.”

Extra points

Cornerback Joe Haden had a stellar practice. He intercepted a pass from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden to wide receiver Josh Cribbs in an 11-on-11 drill, and he picked off a pass  from quarterback Seneca Wallace after it deflected off the hands of undrafted rookie wide receiver Josh Cooper in a 7-on-7 session. Haden also had at least two broken up passes against Weeden. … In a 7-on-7 drill, wide receiver Greg Little jumped and hauled in about a 35-yard pass from Weeden despite coverage from cornerback James Dockery. Little’s highlight grab prompted cheers from the crowd. … Tight end Evan Moore also leaped to catch a pass from Weeden in an 11-on-11 session. … Hughes batted down a pass from McCoy in an 11-on-11 drill.

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