BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns’ first padded practice of 2022 training camp looked almost precisely the way it would have even if Deshaun Watson weren’t set to serve a six-game suspension to start the season.
Watson took the vast majority of first-team snaps Tuesday, leaving backup Jacoby Brissett to again work largely with the second string.
That decision, combined with injuries to three of the Browns’ top four wide receivers, meant that Brissett spent most of Tuesday throwing to a bunch of guys who likely won’t even be on the roster come Week 1.
Cleveland Browns training camp observations
New wide receiver Amari Cooper didn’t participate Tuesday after hurting his ankle in red-zone drills the day before. Head coach Kevin Stefanski did tell reporters that Cooper will be back “pretty soon.”
But Cleveland has other concerns at the position. Rookie David Bell — who, if things go to plan, will see a bunch of work in the slot this fall — hasn’t practiced all camp with a foot issue. And Anthony Schwartz hurt his knee on the second day of camp and didn’t work Tuesday.
Beyond Donovan Peoples-Jones, that left the likes of Jakeem Grant, Michael Woods II, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Travell Harris, Derrick Dillon, and Mike Harley as Cleveland’s top receivers. Grant will be on the team as Cleveland’s returner. But beyond that, there wasn’t a ton for Brissett to work with Tuesday.
So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that he was a checkdown superstar in practice. Anyone who watched him play for the Dolphins last year knows Brissett is risk-averse to a fault.
Based on Tuesday’s practice, the Browns’ talented and deep group of running backs can expect a ton of targets, at least when Brissett is under center.
Browns’ promising rookie class
The Watson trade cost the Browns their first-round pick draft pick in 2022 (along with 2023 and 2024). But it didn’t cost Cleveland the chance to improve through the draft.
The Browns maneuvered their way into three third-round picks back in April and used them on cornerback Martin Emerson (pick No. 68), defensive end Alex Wright (No. 78), and Bell (No. 99).
All three could have significant roles for Cleveland in 2022. Emerson has the early look of a real find, and the Browns may even be leaning toward playing him ahead of Greedy Williams. He got first-team reps Tuesday with Denzel Ward still on the physically unable to perform list.
The moment has not been too big for the Mississippi State product. Emerson mixed it up with Peoples-Jones Tuesday, giving the veteran receiver a late sideline shove that set off a mini-fracas on the defensive bench.
As for Wright, the UAB product looks like he’ll have a spot in the Browns’ defensive line rotation, and he could ultimately be the No. 3 defensive end ahead of veteran Chase Vinovich.
Josh Rosen needs to get better in a hurry
Credit Browns quarterback Josh Rosen for sticking with it. He’s already made a ton of money, and he wasn’t exactly poor to begin with. Yet Rosen was so determined to make it work with football that he was willing to come to Cleveland this summer as a glorified camp arm.
But if he wants to be more than that — and avoid getting dumped by his fifth team in as many seasons — Rosen needs to perform better than he did Tuesday.
Getting his first team and 7-on-7 snaps of camp, Rosen had two really poor throws. He airmailed a wide-open Derrick Dillon down the left sidelines and then misfired on what looked to be an easy throw to the flat.
Rosen and Joshua Dobbs are competing to be Brissett’s backup during Watson’s suspension. But as of now, the job appears to be Dobbs’ to lose.
More news and notes from Browns camp
- Other Browns players held out of practice Tuesday: defensive tackle Sheldon Day (non-football injury list), right tackle Jack Conklin (knee), cornerback Reggie Robinson II, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebacker Anthony Walker (non-football injury list), and wide receiver Javon Wims (non-football illness list).
- With Conklin out, James Hudson and Chris Hubbard both got first-team work at right tackle.