Ousted Baylor coach Art Briles was in Berea Tuesday visiting his former players.
Briles posed for a picture with 2015 first round pick Corey Coleman, fifth round pick Spencer Drango, quarterback Robert Griffin III and receiver Josh Gordon after taking in practice that saw a few former Bears shine.
“Oh heck yeah,” Briles said when asked if he expects Griffin to have a comeback season. “He’s the guy. You saw him today. I bet his completion rate was probably in the low 90s, didn’t have a turnover, really executed well, so it’s going to be a very exciting year for the Cleveland Browns.”
The first play of the opening siren period, which came early in practice, saw Griffin zip a pass approximately 25 yards over the middle to Coleman and the 2 connected a few plays later when Coleman got by corner Jamar Taylor caught the ball and then shook safety Sean Taylor out of his shoes at the 15 before walking into the end zone.
“They’re going to think he’s one of the best to ever put on a Browns uniform,” Briles said of the 2016 first-round pick. “He’s dynamite in a package. He’s explosive, he’s tough and he’s a fearless competitor.”
Throughout the day Briles spoke briefly with his former players as well as Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
“We try not to look at it that way,” Griffin said about the Bears taking over Berea. “Obviously myself, Josh, Corey and Drango all went to Baylor and we enjoy the fact that we all get to play together again or play together for the first time. So it is fun. But it’s not our main focus. We’re Cleveland Browns now. We’re here to help resurrect this team and make it a consistent winner.”
Briles, who dismissed Gordon from his program in 2011, did not get to see the oft-suspended wideout in action because he remains sidelined with a quadriceps injury. Despite the fact Gordon has been disciplined in each of the last 4 seasons totaling 33 games, Briles sees a bright future for No. 12.
“He’s still young,” Briles said. “He’s 25 years old. He graduated young from high school and he’s had his journey. We’ve all had our trials and tribulations…Josh is a sweet sweet spirit, a good person and you always gotta hope the best for people. I’m anxious to see the next phase of his journey.”
Briles was fired by the university earlier this summer in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving some of his former players.
Tough Day – Cornerback Justin Gilbert continues to struggle and tempers flared during one-on-one drills between the receivers and defensive backs. Coleman caught a pass over Gilbert which did not please the third-year corner and the two exchanged words before Jackson stepped in.
“It’s competitiveness,” Jackson said. “One guy is trying to score, the other guy is trying to stop him from scoring so they kind of go after it. Again, I want it to all happen within the rules of the game. It did. It could always escalate, I’m being very honest with you. I never want to have anything escalate because we can’t tolerate that because that can’t happen on the field. That’s where the penalty flag comes out.
“Our guys have to learn to keep their poise and control their emotions. Things get hot sometimes. That’s just part of it, but you got to do it the right way because we don’t want it to cost our football team.”
Gilbert, who has been getting extended reps with Joe Haden recovering from ankle surgery, got abused by Terrelle Pryor a few minutes earlier in 11-on-11 that saw the former QB-turned-receiver catch 3 balls from Josh McCown at his expense which likely didn’t help.
Good Seats Available – The Browns announced a crowd of 2,025 for Tuesday’s practice bringing their announced 3-day total to 6,329. Empty bleacher seats during camp are usually a rarity because they are so coveted, regardless of location, but they’ve been hard to miss through 3 open sessions.
The team averaged 2,853 fans for 11 open practices last year and the previous year 3,364 – the top 2 averages since the team began tracking attendance in 2005.
Thunderstorms and the risk of lightning forced the team to close the first 2 sessions of camp on Friday and Saturday. The heat, late afternoon schedule and assumption that all the tickets have been spoken for could also be a factor for the smaller crowds but fans wanting to attend camp can still register for free tickets at http://www.ClevelandBrowns.com.
Quote of the Day – “You have a lot of really good players in one setting so if something happens I don’t want to wipe off half the team.” – Head coach Hue Jackson on why he put the first team offense against the second team defense and vice versa today in 11-on-11 drills.
Injury Report – WR Josh Gordon (quadriceps), CB Joe Haden (ankle), RG John Greco (knee), TE Seth DeValve (knee), CB Trey Caldwell (hamstring), DB Don Jones (leg), FB Malcolm Johnson (concussion) and FB Patric Skov (lower left leg) did not practice.
WR Andrew Hawkins (hamstring), C Cam Erving (elbow) and DL Kyle Rose (hamstring) left practice early.
DE John Hughes (personal/excused) also did not practice.
Up Next – Browns are OFF on Wednesday; practice resumes Thursday from 3:25-5:55 p.m. Gates open at 2:25.