Browns' training camp officially opens Friday, mercifully ending the off-season. While I confess to being ready for a break by January when they end seasons like last year, free agency never fails to get me Jonesin' like an old Appalachian out of Oxy. By mid-July I'm wondering which comes first, the release of Chinese Democracy or the freaking first practice? Once again, there are punkins on the field and no sign of Axl.
Training camp is awesome. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. It is choice. It is the only time you see these gladiators up close and personal where they look like a bunch of dudes. They sweat. They get tired. They screw up. They used to get yelled at when we had a tougher staff. It makes me identify with them come the days when they are tiny specks many, many stories below.
I've been to Hiram, but never made it to training camp there. I think you have to have a Golden Buckeye card to remember the day. My first recollections were of Kent State, but my favorite place was the old bleachers above the softball field at Lakeland. The Berea facility is perfect for players, awful for fans. I mean positively putrid. You can't see jack squat. There are just too many fields and too much space. In earlier Berea days, Bill and company had some high bleachers installed. If you sat high enough, even at a distance, a good set of binoculars would give you vantage. The BTNG TM (Browns: the Next Generation) kept the high bleachers at first when the training camp experience was still about football and not marketing. That lasted 10 minutes. That high but distant view inspired me to observe that Radio Rahim Abdullah was gonna be a star because he could run better than our tight ends.
I am myopic.
Carmine had Berea transformed with all these smaller bleachers of about six rows. It's great for moving people around and crowd control, but I reiterate, you can't see duty. They suck. But if you could see, I know here's what you should be watching.
Kellen Winslow has a horrible knee and is coming off inherently risky micro fracture knee surgery. So is he or isn't he ready? Is his wheel fixed so he can block? Can he take enough reps to last through 16 games? What's his status?
Jamal Lewis' status:
So is the man who was once one of the most despised players by Browns' fans still a shadow of himself? How much of the guy who said he was gonna do the single game record to us, and then did it, is now here? We'd best hope for a good amount. We have serious quarterback issues until Quinn matures and five guys named Moe backing him up. As Jaylew and the o-line run blocking goes, so goes the O for 2007. If Jaylew is toast, then God help us all. If he is beastie, we may be able to resemble the second half 1984 team that Marty inherited mid season.
The Position Battles:
Cornerback: Eric "Eazy E" Wright vs. Kenny Wright vs. Devon "TURNAROUND!" Holley
Right Tackle: Kevin Shaffer vs. Ross "HIPPA" Tucker
OLB: Antwan Peek vs. Willie McGinest
ILB: Andra Davis vs. Leon Williams vs. D'Qwell Jackson
Backup DL rotation: Simon Frazier vs. Orien Harris vs. Javonne Parker vs. Shaun Smith vs. Chase Pittman
2nd WR: Joe Jurevicius vs. Tim Carter vs. Travis Wilson vs. Josh Cribbs
Right Guard: Seth McKinney vs. Ike Sowells vs. a cast of thousands
Backup RB: Jerome Harrison vs. Jason Wright
And lastly, Strictly 4 My Loyal Readers....
If you go to camp, cheer very loudly for Big Ted Washington. Cheer him in his drills. Yell "TED! YOU MY BOI!" repeatedly at the top of your lungs. He loves it. Trust me.
Pray those little yellow ropes are stronger than you think.
Bonus points for yelling "O - H!" at Edwards as well, waiting to see if he'll answer.
And last, but certainly not least, the beer tent was in the corner to the right when you walked in the back entrance last year. Someone do us all one righteous and post the location on the board after the Friday PM practice.
See yah at camp, bitches.