BEREA – Rookie Joe Haden, the No. 7 pick in the draft, worked mainly as the third cornerback behind Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown through organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. He saw limited time with the first-team defense when Wright was nursing a leg injury.
Coach Eric Mangini saw periods of solid play from Haden, followed by typical rookie mistakes.
“I really like the way that he’s approached things,” Mangini said Saturday after the final minicamp practice. “I think that the volume of information has been new. I’m not saying he didn’t have a large volume in college, but it’s different.
“He’s done a good job and he’s been put in a lot of spots where he’s had to adjust and there’s been hiccups as well along the way. Those safeties and corners, they have a lot to do. Some days it was really good and other days it was not quite as good.”
Haden, who left Florida after his junior year, said the adjustment to the NFL had him playing hesitantly.
“Sometimes I was for sure because I didn’t know if what I was doing was right,” Haden said. “You don’t want to mess up. Now all the plays are in so you can just go as fast as you can.
“Now I can just study the plays and I can try to anticipate stuff instead of worrying. Now I can start reacting.”
The Browns use three cornerbacks in their nickel package, which means Haden, Wright and Brown should see plenty of playing time. It’ll be interesting to see if Haden can displace either veteran in the base defense.
Keep an eye on him
Receiver Johnathan Haggerty made the biggest impression of the rookie free agents throughout camp, and that continued in the final practice. He went high for a Seneca Wallace pass in the end zone and was able to get both feet down inbounds.
“Haggerty probably has jumped the most out of that group of guys,” Mangini said. “He’s a guy that shows up usually once or twice a day, which is nice to see.”
Haggerty is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and played at Southwestern Oklahoma State. He will have the chance to make the regular-season roster, as he competes with rookie sixth-rounder Carlton Mitchell and holdovers Syndric Steptoe and Jake Allen for a spot or two.
“He’s another guy that has an outstanding work ethic, is very bright and he gets it,” Mangini said of Haggerty. “He gets what a great opportunity this is and every day he is going to come out and make a case for himself. He’s gotten some more looks because of the good things that he’s done.”
Haggerty made a good read on a bubble screen from Wallace that drew praise from offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Defensive lineman Brian Schaefering got the biggest applause of the day when he saved the players from afternoon meetings.
Mangini likes to put players on the spot at the end of practice with something on the line. After the quarterbacks couldn’t throw the ball into a garbage can, Schaefering got the chance to throw the ball through the narrow goal posts (about 3 yards wide) from the 50-yard line. The ball sailed through easily, traveling about 70 yards.
“Did you see that launch?” Mangini said. “There was no run-up, nothing, just chuck it. He’s got a gun. Maybe we will use him for like the last play, from the minus-20.”
Schaefering sprinted into the locker room after the heave.
“I can do that from my knees,” he said.
The veterans are off until training camp at the end of July.
Mangini said he expects the guys who missed minicamp as they rehabbed from surgeries to be ready for training camp. The list includes: nose tackle Shaun Rogers (ankle), linebacker Eric Barton (neck), defensive lineman C.J. Mosley (ankle) and punter Dave Zastudil (knee).
“I’d say they are all on track and where we expect them to be,” he said.
• Rookie safeties T.J. Ward (leg) and Larry Asante (leg), linebacker Scott Fujita (cut finger) and receiver Jake Allen (leg) didn’t practice. Mangini said they had minor soreness or tightness and were all held out for precautionary reasons.
• Running back Peyton Hillis (flu) rejoined the team but didn’t practice.
Sights and sounds
Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy got his first snaps with the first team, leading a 2:00 drill against the No. 1 defense. McCoy completed four short passes and picked up a first down before the drive stalled.
• Quarterback Brett Ratliff led the second team in the 2:00 and scored a touchdown on a nice catch by tight end Evan Moore. The 2-point conversion to tie was knocked down by Gerard Lawson, who had given up the touchdown.
• Phil Dawson made field goals from 55 yards and 39 yards in last-second situations. Shaun Suisham was about 10 yards short from 55 yards and connected from 37 yards.
• The mundane daily stretching period is also a chance for personalities to shine through. As the music blared, linebacker Blake “Psycho” Costanzo, tight end Robert Royal and cornerback Brandon McDonald busted moves.
Mangini said the coaches will continue to rotate players on the right side of the offensive line when training camp starts. Incumbents Floyd Womack and John St. Clair, newcomer Tony Pashos and rookie Shawn Lauvao are in the mix for the two starting spots.
• Mangini complimented Moore’s catching, but said he has to improve his blocking.
• The rookies will be kept here through June.
• Mangini recently celebrated his ninth wedding anniversary, and president Mike Holmgren his 39th.
• The team’s annual charity golf outing is Monday at Firestone Country Club in Akron.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253or firstname.lastname@example.org.