BEREA, Ohio – One of the holdovers from two previous regimes has really impressed the coaching staff.
Outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard epitomizes what Mike Pettine and his staff are looking for in players.
"He’s been impressive," Pettine said. "We liked him out of Pitt. We were very encouraged watching the film of him last year. We talk about the play like a Brown attributes and we want a guy that plays like his hair is on fire and if I had to pick one guy that fits that, matches that, the first name I would come up with is Jabaal."
Sheard (6-2, 255) was drafted in the second-round of the 2011 NFL Draft (37th overall) by former GM Tom Heckert when the Browns were playing a 4-3 defense under Pat Shurmur. Sheard played defensive end and led the Browns with 8.5 sacks as a rookie. He led the team in sacks in 2012 with seven.
In his first three seasons, Sheard has accounted for 155 tackles, broken up nine passes and forced seven fumbles.
In 2013, Sheard was switched to outside linebacker when Rob Chudzinski and Ray Horton switched to the 3-4. Sheard’s sacks dropped to 5.5, but it still led the team. Sheard is the first Browns player to have led the team in sacks for three consecutive seasons.
Pettine sees big things for Sheard in his defensive system.
"He’s versatile. We can move him around," Pettine said. "He can play with his hand down. He can play up. His drop skills are more than adequate and he plays violent."
Pettine said he expects to be even more impressed with Sheard when the Browns put on the pads in training camp.
"It’s tough for him in this arena when it’s no pads," he said. "I think he’ll show up more and better when we have the pads on when his physicality is much better used."
QBs Mum: Pettine was asked why QB Brian Hoyer and QB Johnny Manziel weren’t made available to the media.
"If they had been made available, I don’t think the message would’ve been any different."
Manziel had a nice completion deep to WR Anthony Armstrong for a 45-yard gain. Not to be out done, Hoyer completed a deep ball to rookie free agent WR Chandler Jones.
Hoyer was held out of 11-on-11 team drills and Pettine said it was to take precautionary measures.
"We’re being cautious with it and feel it’s too big of a risk," Pettine said.
Pettine doesn’t think Hoyer is being set back by not practicing full go.
"It’s not significant enough of a difference," he said. "He’s still getting work calling the plays in 11-on-11. He only has two more days in ‘Spartan’ mode and then will be full go by the time we get to camp."
Pettine said he understands why Hoyer is frustrated.
"Begrudgingly, he understands why we’re doing it," he said. "He’s the ultimate competitor and am I’m glad he came to talk to me and (we’d be concerned) if he wasnât wearing everybody out to get out there."
Bitonio Sidelined: Second-round draft choice OL Joel Bitonio missed practice with an ankle injury suffered last week in the OTAs. Pettine said that Bitonio will miss the three days of the minicamp, but will be ready for the start of training camp in July.
"We’ll hold him out, but he’ll be ready for training camp," Pettine said.
The only player that Pettine mentioned might not be ready for training camp is WR Travis Benjamin, who is coming off ACL surgery. He said he might start on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Johnson Ready: WR Charles Johnson, who earlier was listed as a potential PUP list candidate to start training camp was not mentioned when Pettine was talking about Benjamin being the only player possibly not ready for the start of training camp.
Johnson has not participated in the OTAs or minicamps, but the coaches are anxious to see him in training camp.
Pettine admitted the coaching staff doesnât know much about Johnson.
"We don’t," he said. "We’re anxious to see him on the field. We went back and looked at tape of him at Grand Valley State. He’s been great in meetings and we’re (looking forward to seeing him play)."
Back at it: OL Joe Thomas, DL Desmond Bryant and DB Justin Gilbert were back practicing after missing last wee’s OTA while the media was present. Also, rookie RB Isaiah Crowell was practicing after sitting out. WR Nate Burleson took part and was catching passes with a soft cast on his arm. WR Miles Austin was still held out of team drills.
Forgotten Man: CB Leon McFadden, last year’s third-round draft choice, made a nice break up on a deep pass intended for WR Anthony Armstrong and thrown by QB Brian Hoyer.
Hard Knocks: Pettine confirmed that the Browns were asked to be on HBO’s Hard Knocks but he explained his reasoning.
"Being a first year head coach, we wanted to get through the first year," he said.
Pettine said the decision was made before the Browns drafted QB Johnny Manziel. Pettine said he wasn’t aware if the show tried to get the Browns to reconsider their decision after the draft.
Bike Brigade: Players on the stationary bike were: WR Travis Benjamin, WR Charles Johnson, LB Tank Carder, DL Billy Winn, RB Jourdan Brooks, LB Brandon Magee, RB Edwin Baker, RB Dion Lewis and WR Willie Snead.
Pettine on Groves: Pettine was asked why the Browns chose to release LB Quentin Groves just before minicamp. He indicated the emergence of rookie LB Christian Kirksey gave the organization confidence to move on from Groves. Kirksey is expected to play both inside and outside linebacker.
"We’re doing cross training with (Christian) Kirksey and having him work outside as well."
Pettine said he thinks it’s better to let veteran players go earlier so they can possibly catch on with another team.
The Browns released DB Jamoris Slaughter on Monday. He was a sixth-round draft choice in 2013.