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Setting realistic expectations for Browns OTAs

It’s that wonderful time of the year again when the Browns take the field for Organized Team Activities. Local media and fans pour over the videos on social media looking for any hint of the 2024 season. Internet doctors and quarterback coaches watch every movement of QB Deshaun Watson. Cleveland beat writers will count who’s not participating and if someone shows up unexpectedly, they’ll ask why the player missed the first week of OTA’s. First of all, they’re voluntary and second of all, they’re voluntary. WR Elijah Moore missed the first week, then shows up for the second week and the media asks him if he’s unhappy because the Browns traded for WR Jerry Jeudy. WR Amari Cooper hasn’t shown up at all, are you going to ask him the same question when mandatory minicamp starts? Hell no. Key veteran plays always miss the voluntary portion of his seasonal practice. Then they show up for the mandatory part. Nonstory.

The part of OTA’s I pay attention to is the coaches’ interviews. I could listen to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz all day. He’s honest and forthright. He doesn’t hold back. When asked about the wildcard game loss to the Texans he acknowledged went wrong and you can tell it still bother him. He praised the front office for resigning key elements of the defense to have consistency and to build on an already good defense going into 2024. New offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey provided the news the team expects Watson to be ready for the beginning of training camp. Good news. Also, when watching offensive team drills, there was more pre snap motion. This confirms to me, he’ll call plays. Pre snap motion is a hallmark of his style of offense.

Finally, the local media was amazed at how involved team consultant Mike Vrabel was in team drills. He played linebacker, rushing the passer and dropping in coverage. Living in Nashville TN and getting a healthy dose of Titans coverage, that’s how he worked with players as the head coach of Tennessee. He also worked with the special teams. Special team’s coordinator Bubba Ventrone also spoke to the media and said they’re working on the new kickoff rule. If you noticed, the Browns are carrying three kickers, Dustin Hopkins, Cade York and Lucas Havrisik. Usually, a team will carry an extra kicker on the practice squad. So why three? Havrisik is a right footed kicker who is also a punter. The Browns starting punter Corey Bojorquez is left footed. In baseball the ball comes off the bat differently for right-handed hitters than for left-handed hitters. The same applies to kickers. Ventrone probably wants his punt returners to experience both.

OTA’s usually are pretty boring, but if you listen and watch, you can start to see what the Browns are working towards.


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