Browns Rookies Report: From Looking in the Cabinet to How to Wear a Helmet – Terry Pluto

Browns Rookies Report: From Looking in the Cabinet to How to Wear a Helmet – Terry Pluto

BEREA, Ohio – The Browns made some of their rookies available to the media on Friday. It’s a fun day talking to players shortly after they first entered the NFL locker room.

Think of Martin Emerson, a third-round pick and the team’s top pick last month.

“When did it seem like you were in the NFL?” I asked.

“When I saw my closet,” said the Mississippi defense back. “He was there with all those other great players.”

Emerson had already sent messages with Denzel Ward, the Nordonia product who has become a Pro Bowl lover. Emerson played in the SEC, which is like a farm system for the NFL. He made many teams of all leagues at this convention during his three years at Starkville, Mississippi.

He knew it would be returned to him. However, seeing your name and jersey in an NFL πι closet… is a dream come true for many of these young men, a day that most will never forget.


Browns rookie Malik Smith has not worn a football helmet since fifth grade.
Joshua Gunter,


The Browns brought in Malik Smith for the weekend as a test. He is the brother of Tyreke Smith, an Ohio State defensive star who was selected for the fifth round by Seattle. They both went to Cleveland Heights.

Malik Smith was a basketball player, averaging 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in high school. He was hired by UNC-Asheville, where he averaged just 1.9 points as a freshman. He later transferred to Bryant and then to Fisk, where he graduated with a degree in business. He only played basketball as a freshman.

What about football?

“Not since fifth grade,” Smith said. “I have not worn a helmet since. They asked me what size I wanted for shoulder pads and helmet – I do not know “.

There is a story of a basketball player becoming an NFL tight ends. This is the path that Smith wants to take, 6 feet long and 267 pounds. Spotted by the Browns on Ohio State Professionals Day. Tyreke fueled the football dream for his brother and persuaded the Buckeyes to put team member Malik under scout control.

Brown likes his raw athleticism. He looks in terrible shape.

“Everything is new to me,” Smith said. “They gave me the playbook and it looks like a bunch of rough lines. I got my business degree from Fisk. My brother thinks I can do it. I have to go. “


Cleveland Browns RB Jerome Ford also has experience in special teams. Joshua Gunter,


Jerome Ford could become more than a backup. I realized this when I asked the Cincinnati product about playing in special teams.

“I did it,” he said. “I like.”

Kicks back?

“I can do that,” he said. “But I would rather run at full speed (to cover the kicks) and hit someone standing still. You hit them. “

He laughed.

I remember the product of Kent State Joshua Crims who entered the NFL with the same attitude after being a free agent without a pension. Ford began his career in Alabama.

“I walked into the back room thinking I was going to be the guy,” Ford said.

What happened?

“I looked around and realized I would not be the guy,” he said with a laugh.

Like Ohio State, Alabama is an NFL factory. In two years, Ford carried the ball 31 times for Alabama, averaging 4.9 yards and scoring three TDs. This small sample size showed talent. Ever since Nick Saban became coach, Alabama has typically been filled with top RB prospects.

Ford transferred to Cincinnati (which had recruited him hard in high school) and became a star for the Bearcats. As a junior, he was in the cover teams and stands out as a runner. In 2021, it rushed for 1,242 yards (6.2 yards on average) and 19 TD. The fifth round was chosen by the Browns.

“I was having a haircut (by a friend) at my house when I was called by lottery,” Ford said. “I will do whatever they want. … I can catch the ball. I was a slot machine in high school. Special teams … say it “.


David Bell says a receiver’s main job is to catch the ball and he did it well in Purdue.
Joshua Gunter,


In 2016, the Browns had a media event like this for their rookies. I spent time with Russard Higgins. It was a choice of the fifth round. It was the fourth receiver drafted by the team that year.

“What kind of receiver are you?” I asked Higgins.

“I am a Catch-The-Ball receiver,” he said.

At his best, Higgins has good hands. The Browns hope that third round David Bell has the same characteristics – even though he does not have the ideal NFL speed.

“For me, catching the ball is our No. 1 job,” said Bell, who was Purdue’s Big Ten Recipient of the Year.

Bell’s statistics for 2021 are overwhelming. He caught 93 passes, averaging 13.8 yards. He played huge games against good teams: Ohio State (11 catches, 102 yards), Michigan State (11 catches, 217 yards) and Iowa (11 catches, 240 yards).

With these numbers, one would expect to be higher in the draft.

“I do not see it that way,” Bell said. “God put me in perfect condition. “The Browns have a great running game, a great passing game.”

With Amari Cooper being the only established receiver on the roster, it’s a great opportunity for the 6-foot receiver to play right away.


Rookie Cade York said he has already made a trip to FirstEnergy Stadium to practice kicking on the lake shore.

Joshua Gunter,


This was new. I have never seen anyone surrounded by a crowd of journalists on the first day the media was allowed to watch a rookie camp. But that’s the case with Cade York, the LSU player who was drafted in the fourth round.

He has already made a trip to FirstEnergy Stadium to practice kicking on the shores of Lake Erie.

“It was awesome,” York said. “Really, there was more air when I usually kicked at LSU.”

York knows bad weather is coming. He had a 40-minute phone conversation with Phil Dawson, the Browns’ last great player. The weather and the wind were part of the discussion. Dawson told York about a flag he watched over the stadium to judge wind currents.

Ever since the Browns decided not to give up Dawson after the 2012 season, they have gone from nine kickers to nine years – including Cody Parkey twice (2016, 2020).

Dawson started when the team returned in 1999 until 2012. Some fans want the Browns to hire Dawson as a kicking coach. He already has a job – head coach at High School Hyde Park in Austin, Texas.

York quickly learns that kickers are a big deal in Cleveland. Dawson is respected. The Browns’s training camp is located on Lou Grosse Avenue, named after the Browns’s first big player.


Cleveland Browns WR Michael Woods Il bends as he leaves the pitch after Minicamp Rookie Cleveland Browns. Joshua Gunter,


“Donovan Peoples-Jones,” said Michael Woods II. The sixth round draft pick was talking about another sixth round pick, a receiver just like him. The Peoples-Jones (DPJ) were drawn in 2020. In his final season in Michigan, the DPJ caught 34 passes for an average of 12.9 yards.

Woods caught 35 passes for an average of 11.4 yards.

Receivers coach Chad O’Shea told Woods that the DPJ “played 40% of the snaps as a rookie.” In fact, it was 34 percent. But being a pick in the sixth round does not prevent a rookie from being on the field.

“I’m big,” said 6-foot-1 Woods. “I am a 3-level receiver. I can do it soon. I can do it mediocre. I can do it for a long time. “I can block.”

All the novices were excited. They met fans at the airport and the hotel and they show love for their men with orange helmets. Everyone is excited right now in Veria.

“Everyone tells me the Dawg Pound is pretty crazy,” Woods said. “We will give them a reason to be crazy.”


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