The first week of voluntary OTA’s started this week in Berea and don’t tell anybody but veteran Browns players actually showed up. Browns twitter was convinced the Browns were going to be behind every team in the NFL and some USFL teams because other teams had large player participation in off-season workouts.
Calm down, everyone. It’s June and these sessions are voluntary.
There are two things you can always count on from some Browns fans. If a player from another team is released or wants to be traded, the Browns should sign him or trade for him and Browns doom and gloom. Just a reminder, the Browns had no OTA’s, minicamp, or pre-season games last year and won 11 games.
And, by the way, the Browns’ first-year coach won Coach of the Year.
Luckily, 55 players showed up to do position drills in helmets and shorts. Bring on Kansas City, baby. Of the players who showed up, most were defensive players. Which makes sense because there could be as many as nine new starters on defense. Besides the rookies and lower-level roster players, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Ronnie Harrison, Andrew Billings, Mack Wilson, Jacob Phillips, Malik Jackson, Anthony Walker, Greedy Williams and Sione Takitaki participated.
As for the 35 who didn’t show, the most notable defensive players were Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, John Johnson, III and Troy Hill. Clowney isn’t surprising because he is rehabbing from off-season surgery. Head coach Kevin Stefanski told the Cleveland media, who surprisingly didn’t ask any stupid questions, (good job by Tony Grossi & Mary Kay) the others were participating in Zoom meetings. He wouldn’t say how many, but word is participation in the meetings has been great.
Of course, the biggest complaint by Browns fans was where are the players who start on offense? Quarterback Baker Mayfield has already had a throwing session in Florida with Browns wide receivers and tight ends and according to Browns reporter Camryn Justice (@camijustice), the starting offensive line is working out together four or five times a week. Next week there will be another three-day voluntary session and I have a feeling the offensive starters will show up then. They’re probably jealous the defensive players got to run around in shorts and helmets.
The biggest news that came out of this week’s voluntary OTA’s was that Myles Garrett has retired from….basketball. I guess he got tired of dunking on guys like me, slow accountants who can’t jump. The big question is who retires his jersey, the Cavs or the Browns?
Other notables, free-agent defensive tackle Malik McDowell is a very big man. McDowell has never played a down in the NFL after being drafted out of Michigan State by Seattle, because of an auto accident and legal troubles. All the reports are he looks very strong and very fast. Another surprise was soon-to-be Browns legend and already fan-favorite defensive end Curtis Weaver. After a year of working out with Browns trainers, Weaver looks a lot bigger. GM Andrew Berry is proving again he’s an NFL personnel savant. The defensive line competition in training camp is going to be incredible.
The true test will come on June 15 when mandatory (not voluntary) minicamp begins. If a large group of veteran players don’t participate, then there might be a problem. I’ll hold judgment until then. However, players can only collect their roster bonuses if they show up for mini-camp. Cash is king in the NFL. In the meantime, enjoy OTA’s for what they truly are…Browns fans enjoying pictures and videos of Browns players running around Berea in helmets and shorts.