When it comes to the sports world, minicamps are like surgeries — they are always successful.
Never will a team put out a release that surgery for a player was unsuccessful, so neither will a team say that those three days of practice in shorts in May were a waste of time.
Thus, it was not a surprise to hear Pat Shurmur say these last three days were not productive for the Browns.
“It was a good minicamp,” Shurmur said.
Hold the presses.
But, for the Browns the three days of the rookies being good was indeed a good thing. Over and over, Shurmur said he saw in players the reasons why the team drafted them.
That was important.
Trent Richardson looked strong and stout. His size and ability were noticeable.
Brandon Weeden threw the ball comfortably and well and carried himself with a certain way that oozed confidence.
“I was glad to see that they were very professional in the way that they work at things and I think it showed up on the field,” Shurmur said of his top two draft picks. “Now, the next step as we have just talked about is to put them in with the other guys and see them compete with guys that have already played in the league.”
Mitchell Schwartz had size and strength. With long hair and his beard, he looked the part of a gnarly offensive lineman.
Travis Benjamin dropped some passes, but his pure speed had Shurmur talking as if he could earn lots of playing time this fall.
None of this all matters a lot coming off five practices in shorts, but it does matter that the Browns’ thoughts of their draftees were confirmed. That is a good thing for a team that has lost over and over and over through the years.
Shurmur talked of going through a normal offseason for the first time, then said the Browns would be “one team” starting Monday when the veterans returned to work with the rookies.
Of the individual players came these comments:
“(Richardson) is the real deal, he really is,” Weeden said. “It’s amazing. I played with a lot of good backs at Oklahoma State, but there is a reason he was the third pick overall. You can see why. He is able to catch the ball out of the backfield. He runs hard. He said it himself, he is a different guy when he touches the football. He is a freak.”
On Weeden, Shurmur said:
“I think he genuinely operated well. Other than a couple of plays, he did almost everything under center and I think he handled that extremely well. He is very accurate. You can see he throws a good ball. You could see that he has a chance to be a very good player.”
On linebacker James-Michael Johnson, Shurmur said:
“He played all three positions. I think our guys, because they basically all play off of the line of scrimmage, they have to be able if they are not the starter to back up at more than one spot. We saw that he could learn because there is a little bit of different learning whether you play the Sam, the Mike or the Will. By forcing him to play those spots, we could see that he can learn and I thought he functioned well. We’re excited that as we give him more and more, and you add the physical nature to playing linebacker, that he is going to show up.”
On Benjamin, Shurmur said:
“I saw a lot of good stuff from Travis this weekend and I feel like he will only continue to get better.”
None of the comments are unexpected. The positives should be taken with a grain of salt, because it was a minicamp and the Browns have a long way to go. But the comments were rooted in some reality, which is probably the best notion that came out of the three days.