Cleveland Browns Training Camp: Week 2 Stock Report
The Cleveland Browns are now seven practices in to training camp have even had a full scrimmage. Guys are starting to separate themselves. Sometimes they separate themselves because of their play on the field, and other times it is out of their control.
Either way, the storylines are coming into focus more and more as camp wears on. The quarterback battle seems like it will rage on for most of camp, and the receiver position has some serious dark-horse contenders.
On the defensive side of the football, players are beginning to make names for themselves. With a new coaching staff, anyone can swoop in and grab playing time. That is the beauty of training camp.
It is time to check the Browns’ stock market again and see who is worth buying and who you should dump. It’s the Week 2 stock report.
Stock Up: Johnny Manziel
Let’s be very clear before we go any further: Johnny Manziel’s stock being up has very little to do with his play on the practice field. Having watched most of the practices thus far, I would struggle to tell you a time when he looked good.
Fortunately for him, the coaching staff’s pre-made plans have boosted him into the reps with the first-team offense on Monday.
Pettine says Manziel getting 1st team reps "all part of the plan." @TonyGrossi specifically asks, did he earn them? Pettine: "no."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 4, 2014
It would have been nice to say that Manizel took full advantage of the reps, but other than a 40-yard bomb to Travis Benjamin, there was not much to write home about. Andre Knott of WTAM 1100 had Manziel unofficially at 6-of-17 on the day.
Despite his struggles, Manziel is still very much in the race, and getting reps with the starters can only help his cause toward winning the job.
Stock Down: Brian Hoyer
Just like Manziel, Brian Hoyer’s stock falling has less to do with his play on the field and more to do with a coaching game plan. Hoyer has been steady throughout camp thus far and looked much better than Manziel.
The issue Hoyer is facing right now is that he has been consistent, but he's been consistently underwhelming. Not once has Hoyer looked like a guy whom a coach would or had to hand the starting job to right away.
In the Browns' scrimmage on Sunday, both Hoyer and Manziel left a ton to be desired. Unfortunately for Hoyer, Manziel flashed some of his off-the-cuff brilliance which made him so dangerous at Texas A&M.
The more opportunities that Manziel gets with the first team, the tougher it will be for Hoyer to win the job. I was at every practice in last season’s training camp, and Hoyer looked like a guy who shouldn’t have even made the roster. He then went out and played very well in game situations.
He might be the type of guy who shows up big at game time, but if he doesn’t start showing something special in practice, he won’t get that opportunity.
Stock Up: Willie Snead
With so many question marks at wide receiver, it is nice to see guys stepping up to the plate. Perhaps none have done that more so than undrafted rookie Willie Snead.
Snead played college football at Ball State and tallied a combined 2,600 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in his last two seasons. That type of production will get you an NFL tryout. He is making the most of it.
Typically, receivers who come out of nowhere in camp have one or two good practices, the media will overhype them and then they fizzle off into obscurity. That's not Snead. He has played well since the second he arrived in Cleveland.
1. Willie Snead officially has risen to the top of the undrafted WR class, in my opinion ... #browns.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) August 3, 2014
The thing about Snead is that he can already run NFL routes. His technique is sound, and he is not afraid to be physical and to use his body. That gives him a leg up on the competition vying for a wide-open receiving corps.
Stock Down: Jason Pinkston
A stock does not get much more down than offensive guard Jason Pinkston. The 26-year old who has been diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs in the past has reportedly been dealing with them again.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday (via Pat McManamon of ESPN.com) that Pinkston may have to retire due to the illness. He also reported that the team and Pinkston reached an injury settlement, and he is definitely done for the season.
It is a sad end for a young man who had such a promising career ahead of him. Pinkston was slated to compete for a starting guard spot, and many believed he could win that job.
Knowing him personally—as I do—it is especially sad because he is such a good human being, and he loved being a part of the community in Cleveland. Hopefully fans will get to see him in some kind of role involving the Browns in the future.
Stock Up: Barkevious Mingo
If the Browns are going to have a dangerous defense this season, then they will need a better effort from Barkevious Mingo. Last season he started hot but fizzled later as the year wore on. So far this training camp, he has been impressive.
Mingo, whom head coach Mike Pettine has gone out of his way to praise since his arrival in Cleveland, will be a focal point of the Browns' pass rush this season. On Saturday, in the Browns Family Day scrimmage, Mingo added to his strong start to camp by standing out from everyone else.
The outside linebacker intercepted a tipped Brian Hoyer pass during a red-zone period and galloped 48 yards before being tackled by Mitchell Schwartz. It was easily the most entertaining play in a scrimmage that lacked for excitement and offense.
"Yes, he was hell-bent on scoring, too," coach Mike Pettine said. "I was waiting for the officials to blow that one dead. No, that was a heck of a play by him."
Tom Reed of the Northeast Ohio Media Group said Mingo picked off several passes in the first week of practice. If he can add solid coverage to his pass rush, then Mingo could be a dangerous weapon for the Browns defense.
Stock Down: Connor Shaw
Undrafted rookie quarterback Connor Shaw has been one of the guys to keep an eye on early in camp. The amount of reps he was receiving was surprising for a guy whom many didn’t think had a real shot to make the team.
When you were undrafted and are trying to beat out a veteran like Tyler Thigpen for the third quarterback position, you have to play nearly perfect football. Shaw did the exact opposite in Saturday's scrimmage.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, Shaw threw two interceptions in his minimal reps. That is the key part for Shaw; he has to maximize the reps he does receive.
It is much easier for the Browns to carry a veteran quarterback like Thigpen than a rookie like Shaw. This is especially true when the two quarterbacks in front of them have just four combined NFL starts.
For Shaw to win the third quarterback spot, he cannot afford to have days like he did on Saturday.
Stock Up: Jacobbi McDaniel
One of Shaw’s interceptions was caught by undrafted rookie defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel. He is another guy who has really stood out through the beginning of training camp.
McDaniel, a guy whom I have had pegged a sleeper to make the roster for over a month, is a monster to block off the line and surprisingly nimble in open space. After his interception and impressive display in Saturday's scrimmage, he received reps with the first-team defense on Monday, per Tom Reed of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
Rookie DL Jacobbi McDaniel had tipped pass, pressures today in scrimmage. Watched him destroy guys in 1-on-1 drills this week. #Browns— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) August 2, 2014
He has an uphill battle to make the roster because of the depth at defensive line. This could work to his advantage, however, as the new coaching staff and general manager could see him as a cheaper, younger alternative and a way to save money.
If he continues to take advantage of the time that he is given in practice and reps he receives during the preseason games, then McDaniel could find himself on the active roster come September 7.
Stock Unknown: Josh Gordon
It is tough to say whether or not wide receiver Josh Gordon’s stock is truly up or down at this point. He finished his appeal hearing, which started on Friday and concluded Monday afternoon, and will now wait for the arbitrator to rule.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, per a source, "Gordon’s legal team expects the ruling to take at least a week" and is hoping it doesn’t take "longer than three weeks." It is tough to read into the fact the hearing took so long to conclude and the result will take even longer.
Some, including Bill Livingston of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, believe that, despite the strong case for second-hand smoke, the league will still drop the hammer on him for the amount of times he has violated the league’s policy.
Gordon returned to practice with the team on Monday, and the Browns will consider it “business as usual” until he is suspended. They have maintained this approach throughout the offseason. It does, however, leave a weird looming cloud over the team as it awaits its star player’s fate.
I’m sure everyone involved and observing from the outside cannot wait for a resolution to this one.