Browns finish camp on positive note
Zac Jackson, Staff Writer
As Rex Hadnot stood on the 10-yard line Saturday afternoon, all that stood between the Browns and summer vacation was one catch.
Eric Mangini ended the Browns' morning minicamp practice by making his players a deal. If an offensive lineman could catch a punt -- or if a defensive lineman could catch a kickoff -- minicamp would be over. Meetings would be cancelled. So, too, would the last practice session.
So the players chose Hadnot, and he jogged towards the goal line. Dave Zastudil's first punt missed him, but it was deemed a warmup. Hadnot caught the next kick and was mobbed by his teammates.
"He nailed the second one," Mangini said.
"I took a little spin off it the second time," Zastudil said. "I know there was a lot riding on that catch."
Mangini joked that though he wasn't sure about Hadnot's run-after-catch ability, he'd see about adding the guard/center to the list of punt return prospects.
THAT'S A WRAP -- There won't be any returns (or drills, or 7-on-7's, for that matter) in Berea for the next month-plus. The end of minicamp marks the end of the offseason program. The veterans will report back July 31, and the Browns will open training camp Aug. 1.
"I told the guys, ‘You don't want to just head off to the beach, throw on some suntan lotion and pick up a book,'" Mangini said. "The book you want to pick up, if you are, is the playbook. You want to be studying and making the information that you have been given just second nature. So now you are not thinking, you are reacting and you are playing, and your true ability comes out and you give yourself the best chance to be successful.
"The same thing physically, you need to maintain the level of fitness that you have currently and improve upon it, because it is a challenge, physically, during camp and then moving into the season. Those were points of emphasis that I worked on and talked about with them this morning. I've just seen a lot of progress in the past in this block of time, and hopefully we will see the same progress here."
FINISHING STRONG - The Browns' final practice of the spring was heavy on situational work - two-minute offense, four-minute offense, and scenarios that forced the offense to drive 30 yards and kick a field goals in some situations, and in others the offense needed 60 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
"I could see the progress," Mangini said. "I could see it in the situational awareness, the things that we did today. A lot of practice was winning plays and two-point plays. Everything was scripted that way.
"I saw a lot of progress in situational awareness from (previous) days to here this morning. There are definitely a lot of things to be encouraged about."
THUMBS UP - Robaire Smith, who's been rehabbing from a torn Achilles that ended his 2008 season last September, said he's encouraged with his progress and hopes to be back on the field for training camp.
"I'm just working hard to get back," he said. "I feel good, so we'll see. There's a lot of energy out there and I'm just trying to be a part of it. It's up to the doctors and the trainers, but I'm going to keep working and following their lead."