Cleveland Browns 2014 Training Camp Preview
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
REPORT DATES: July 23 (rookies), July 25 (veterans)
SITE: Cleveland Browns Training Facility, Berea, OH
CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: If you don't want the circus in town, you probably shouldn't pitch the big top.
The Browns invited additional scrutiny when they decided to get into the "Johnny Football" business. Quarterbacks -- good, bad or indifferent -- are the face of any franchise on the field and it's impossible to hide a nondescript one, never mind one with the star power of a Johnny Manziel, yet that's exactly what Cleveland has tried to do at times in the offseason, shutting out the national media from rookie camp before closing down the availability of their quarterbacks at minicamp.
During much of the offseason, Manziel was spotted partying far away from Cleveland on numerous occasions and while he has done nothing wrong, it's unrealistic to ignore the fact that the position he plays demands a strong work ethic and significant leadership-by-example skills, something Manziel never really flashed at Texas A&M, at least according to some scouts.
KEY OFFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Any time you draft a quarterback in the first round of the draft the plan is for him to take over sooner rather than later.
Manziel has all the physical tools in the world to succeed on the football field but even his staunchest supporters would have a difficult time arguing he has the life skills to navigate all the potholes littering his path until he matures a bit.
"I'm not concerned," first-year head coach Mike Pettine said when discussing Manziel's off-the-field behavior. "I would become concerned if there was something criminal, and I'd be concerned if it affected his job."
KEY DEFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Cleveland's other first-round draft pick, cornerback Justin Gilbert, will be expected to hit the ground running and team with veteran Joe Haden to give the Browns two top-tier players outside the numbers on defense.
"(Gilbert) has all the tools to be a dominant corner in this league, he's just got to go out and do it," Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim O'Neill said. "I mean, if you were creating a corner in a video game, you'd create Justin Gilbert. His size, his speed, his length, his burst, his ball skills -- he's got everything."
PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):
Aug 9 - at Detroit, 7:30 PM Aug 18 - at Washington, 8:00 PM Aug 23 - vs. St. Louis, 8:00 PM Aug 28 - vs. Chicago, 8:00 PM
07/17 15:10:34 ET