BEREA: Rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is confident he made a jump in progression from the Browns’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions to their second exhibition game with the Green Bay Packers.
“I definitely think it was a better game,” Schwartz said Sunday after practice. “I think I played better all the way around. I think the pass sets were better, better with my feet, better on the punch with my hands, able to get on guys before they were able to get on me, which was one of the issues that I had in the first game. There’s still some stuff I need to clean up — footwork stuff. I think I had just better overall technique.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur saw positive signs from Schwartz, the 37th overall pick in this year’s draft.
“I thought he improved quite a bit,” Shurmur said. “Quite frankly, I thought it was a style of game where he’s probably ahead in run blocking as opposed to his pass blocking. We were able to run the ball on a consistent basis, which helped him have more good plays. I thought he pass protected better.”
Now Schwartz is aiming to perform well Friday against the Browns’ next preseason opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. Schwartz and the rest of the starters will play about a half, Shurmur said. The Browns also open the regular season against the Eagles on Sept. 9.
The Eagles’ defensive ends use a wide nine-technique, meaning they line up far outside the offensive tackles. Willie Young of the Lions gave Schwartz trouble in that alignment, so Schwartz is eager to get another shot.
“I think it’ll be nice to get — I guess I wouldn’t say redemption — but just to progress with that,” he said. “Obviously we play [the Eagles] the first week [of the regular season], so it’s something you’ve got to be successful at.”
Schwartz not only believes he made strides against the Packers, but he also thinks the entire offense got better.
“It’s hard not to be encouraged by that,” Schwartz said. “I think the key after that is not to get complacent. I mean, it’s only one game. It’s a preseason game. You’ve got to get back out on the field. You’ve got to keep progressing. The second you think you’re successful is the second you stop trying as hard, and that’s when things kind of slip on you.”
Rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin got some work with the first-team offense in three-receiver sets. He and Greg Little lined up on the outside, and Mohamed Massaquoi served as a slot receiver.
The 5-foot-10 175-pound Benjamin is the lightest player on the Browns’ roster. His size suggests he’s primarily a slot receiver, though he said he’s comfortable on the outside, too.
“It doesn’t matter what the size is,” said Benjamin, who participated in the second consecutive practice after missing a week with an undisclosed injury. “As long as you’ve got the techniques and the speed and ability to bring to the game, you can play anywhere on the field and make a play.”
Tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed) practiced for the first time since Aug. 3. He participated in individual drills but not team drills. Wide receiver Rod Windsor also returned to practice after sitting out Friday.
Rookie running back Trent Richardson was among the 11 players who were sidelined Sunday. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9, but the Browns are hopeful he’ll be able to return by Week 1.
“He’s getting better every day, so his progress has been outstanding,” Shurmur said. “He’s about where we thought he’d be at this point, probably a little bit ahead of that. So he’ll be out here soon.”
Defensive end Frostee Rucker participated in the second practice in a row after missing more than two weeks with an injured right knee.
“Camp injuries happen, stuff happens, but you’ve got to fight your way back,” Rucker said. “And that’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m happy to be back and part of the team. … I’ll be ready to go, and hopefully I’ll get some snaps this week.”
Shurmur said the Browns don’t plan on deciding who their No. 2 quarterback will be until they have completed their exhibition games. It’s going to be either Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace.
“I don’t see a real urgency right now to settle that,” Shurmur said. “Everybody’s out there working hard and Week 1, it’ll pretty much be unveiled who’s 2 and who’s 3. I don’t necessarily see the drama in it, quite frankly.”
When asked why the Browns waived backup kicker Jeff Wolfert on Saturday, Shurmur said, “As we move along here, there could be some changes to the roster, and that’s a spot.” … Rookie offensive tackle Ryan Miller walked off the practice field and into the team’s facility with a trainer. … Safety Ray Ventrone had a big ice pack strapped to his right hamstring during practice.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.