BEREA — Receiver Brian Robiskie ran a lap around the Browns practice fields Friday afternoon, punishment for dropping a punt during rookie minicamp.Welcome to life with Eric Mangini.
“If you put the ball on the ground, you run,” Mangini said. “If you get a penalty, you run.
“There’s nothing more valuable than the ball. It’s amazing and dramatic how one turnover affects a game.
“And penalties are concentration errors.”
In Mangini’s first practice open to reporters as Browns coach, the punitive lap was one of the noticeable differences from the Romeo Crennel era. Here are the highlights.
• High school and college referees officiated the practice and will throughout the season. Mangini said he monitors the number of penalties per practice, the type of penalties and the guilty parties.
“It raises consciousness,” he said. “It keeps track of something that can be easy to overlook. Penalties are completely under our control. It’s just focus.”
• Mangini installed a drill in which two players line up 20 yards apart in a confined space. One has the ball and the other tries to stop him. On Friday there were no pads or hitting, but during training camp it will be full-contact.
“There are a lot of things you can teach from that drill,” he said. “I think it’s one of the best teaching drills, because it’s one-on-one.
“It reinforces how important tackling is to the guys. It’s huge. We want to keep repping that fundamental to make sure that we can minimize the amount of missed tackles, and then also teach our guys the best way to run with the football and isolate that skill set and help them.”
• The defense ran a drill in which everyone dropped to the ground, then got up and chased a ball boy down the sideline. It’s designed to teach recovery and pursuit.
“It’s nice to be out doing some football,” Mangini said. “It seems like a long time since the season ended.”
Hall of Fame speakers
The rookies will get a treat tonight, as Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Paul Warfield will talk to the group.
“I don’t think these guys have any idea how unique that is. They have no idea.” Mangini said. “They’ll probably realize it at some point in their life.”
The rookies will still be required to go through meetings, but the tone of the night is different. The program will include talks from two current players and a franchise history lesson.
“It’s a great night. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year,” Mangini said. “It’s football, but it’s more about the spirit of football — why we play football, appreciating all the people who’ve come before them.”
Brown watched practice Friday afternoon, using a cane following hip replacement surgery. Last year, he was forced to ride in a golf cart.
Robiskie, Cleveland’s first second-round draft choice, was in a No. 80 jersey and occupied the locker to the left of Braylon Edwards’. He’s come a long way since acting as ball boy for three seasons while his dad, Terry, was an assistant coach.
“It’s one of those things you imagine, you wish,” Robiskie said. “But you don’t really expect it to happen.”
Robiskie went to Chagrin Falls High School and Ohio State.
“It’s definitely a little bit funny,” he said. “All my football’s going to be in Ohio. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Browns signed 14 undrafted rookies to free-agent deals, including Michigan tight end Mike Massey, who attended St. Ignatius, and defensive back Bryan Williams from Akron.
Miami (Fla.) running back Andrew Johnson from Akron and defensive tackle David Patterson, who went to Warrensville Heights High School and Ohio State, are in camp as tryouts.
“They all have some different things that we like,” Mangini said. “It’s great that they are local guys, but that’s not the total criteria. But it is nice to have a local connection whenever possible.”
Offensive lineman Branndon Braxton from Oklahoma, offensive lineman Marlon Davis from Alabama, receiver Jordan Norwood from Penn State and defensive back Antonio Smith from Bowling Green are other notable free-agent signees.
The Browns were awarded linebacker Bo Ruud (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) off waivers from New England. He was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots last year and spent the season on injured reserve. He started 33 games at Nebraska and totaled 216 tackles, 41/2 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. He also intercepted five passes, returning three for touchdowns.
• The Browns released running back Allen Patrick.
• Mangini had a new scoreboard installed on the outside of the fieldhouse. It’s large enough to be easily visible from the far practice fields.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.