As Cleveland Browns training camp moves along, more bumps, bruises and injuries are popping up.
Among the new names missing from Browns’ practice on Sunday was linebacker/defensive end Genard Avery. He joined a group on the bikes at practice that included running backs Kareem Hunt, Duke Johnson and Trayone Gray, as well as wide receiver Damion Ratley and corner Donnie Lewis Jr.
Avery logged 40 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four pass breakups and a forced fumble over 16 games last season. Cleveland’s fifth-round pick in 2018 has taken reps at both linebacker and defensive end this offseason and will be in the rotation as an edge rusher of some kind.
While head coach Freddie Kitchens has been vocal about his team wanting to be physical, he’s also stressed the issue on player safety and wanting to keep everyone healthy.
“We have to learn how to practice and we have to learn how to take care of each other,” Kitchens said after the first day of training camp. “By no means does that have to do anything with being physical, but we have to understand how to take care of each other and not get each other injured for doing things we should not be doing. That is what I would like to see. Our effort is going to be there. Our attention to detail needs to be better in all areas, but this is the first day of practice.”
Browns Defensive Line Seen as Strength of Team
Why Avery isn’t expected to start, he will still play an important role in the rotation as the Browns look to get after QBs.
Myles Garrett, the Browns former No. 1 overall pick, headlines the defensive line unit. He’s coming off a Pro Bowl season where he notched 44 total tackles, including 35 solo stops, playing in all 16 games. He also recorded 13.5 sacks, coming up just a half-sack short of the tying Reggie Camp’s 35-year-old single-season franchise record.
Defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi is an up-and-comer due for a big year, while the additions of Sheldon Richardson and Vernon went under the radar, as the trade for Odell Beckham Jr. took much of the spotlight. Garrett doesn’t mind if the defense isn’t the center of attention.
“It does not bother me at all,” he said. “I don’t mind not getting any attention. I don’t mind it on the field either. If you don’t want to block me, I will be willing to take the sack, too. I am not a spotlight kind of guy. They can have all of that. I’m just going to make plays and be there for my defense like I am supposed to be.”
Duke Johnson Dealing With Nagging Hamstring Injury
Johnson, who asked for a trade earlier this offseason, has not been on the field the last two days at Browns training camp, dealing with a hamstring injury that has him hobbled.
Kitchens revealed that the ailment is not a serious one, saying that he doesn’t expect the fifth-year running back to miss much time. Johnson hasn’t missed a game in his previous four seasons, all with the Browns.
“We don’t know specifics. We are going to see how it progresses. Duke is a quick healer but we also want to be cautious from the standpoint of this guy has to play for us,” Kitchens told reporters after practice. “We have to make sure he’s healthy and it’s not something that lingers. Sometimes with these hamstrings, they linger. Duke will be fine but we want to err on the side of caution.”