BEREA — Tuesday turned out to be a good morning for most of the Browns’ veterans as they were given the option of skipping practice.
For some non-rookies occupying lower spots on the depth chart, however, it was not a delightful day.
Linebackers Chaun Thompson, David McMillan, Clifton Smith and Jason Short, running back Jerome Harrison, wide receiver Joshua Cribbs, tackles Kelly Butler and Nat Dorsey, tight end Darnell Dinkins, defensive end J’Vonne Parker, and cornerback Therrian Fontenot were required to attend the 8:45 a.m. session by coach Romeo Crennel.
“I decided which (veterans) I would give the option of basically sleeping in,” Crennel said. “The rest of the guys that were here I felt needed some work, so that’s why they were here.”
Cleveland’s younger players took center stage on the final two-a-day set of training camp practices, which were held indoors and closed to the public.
The one-hour morning session was conducted in full pads with mostly rookies competing, while the two-hour evening workout featured the entire roster and some very hard hitting drills.
Even with the entertaining action late, both practices were overshadowed by the ongoing starting quarterback battle, which appears to be down to incumbent Charlie Frye and rookie Brady Quinn.
Frye will start Saturday night at Denver in the Browns’ third preseason game, but it’s anybody’s guess who will be under center when they open the regular season Sept. 9 against Pittsburgh.
“With this competition that we’ve had, which has been a good competition, our first opponent might have to wonder who the quarterback is going to be,” Crennel said. “They might have to prepare for two guys, which could be an advantage for us.”
The coach was then asked which two guys he was referring to.
“It’s Charlie and yes,” Crennel quipped. “Who do you want it to be?”
Many Clevelanders would emphatically answer Quinn, who has been thrust into the mix after Frye and Derek Anderson both struggled badly in camp and two preseason games.
The Notre Dame product deftly avoided being drawn into the QB controversy following the morning practice, but said he hasn’t ruled out winning the starting job this year.
“I would never say never,” Quinn said. “I think it is still somewhat of a competition. Even though the starter has been announced for this game, I think guys are still competing, still trying to show what they can do.
“The roster hasn’t been set and this isn’t Week 1 yet for the NFL. We have two weeks left of hard work in camp and we’ll see where things go from there.”
While Quinn continues to make progress, the same can’t be said for many of the Browns’ other inexperienced players. Crennel said he used the day’s first practice to gauge just where they stood.
“I think some of them found out they weren’t where they thought they were,” said the coach, who made his offense run laps to atone for jumping offsides. “Sometimes those mental reps aren’t as good as the physical reps. But overall, I thought it was a good morning.”
So did Quinn, who has been told he will play against the Broncos but not when or how much action he will get.
Crennel continues to keep those details to himself, leaving his student to work on refining his football fundamentals, both on and off the field.
“The biggest thing is getting reps over and over again, taking time to talk to the wide receiver and communicate with him to see what he is seeing out there,” Quinn said. “I also think you have to know what type of wide receivers you’re throwing to and what kind of personality they have.
“To me, that’s just as big of a part as getting the reps, getting the confidence and trust of your teammates.”
Quinn already has earned the confidence and trust of a large number of fans.
That’s half the battle in Brownstown. The other half — and the starting QB battle — rages on.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.