Greedy Williams is getting closer to full strength after missing all of 2020 with a nerve condition in his right shoulder. (Cleveland Browns)
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from Browns OTA practice and interviews …
Wednesday was a good day for Greedy Williams. And, boy, he’s owed a few.
A freak nerve condition settled in his right shoulder after he jammed it making a tackle in the first tackling drill of the 2020 training camp. Nobody thought at the time Williams would miss the entire season, but he did.
But on Wednesday, Williams was back at the position he hopes to reclaim, starting at cornerback opposite Denzel Ward, in a team drill at the Browns’ penultimate OTA practice.
“It is a great feeling,” Williams said in a Zoom interview afterwards, his first discourse with group media in almost a year. “Just being reunited with the team, going through the drills with them and things like that, it gives you the happiest moments.
“The rehab process, it is a fight. Dealing with a nerve injury, you fatigue kind of fast with a shoulder injury. I keep fighting through it and just keep trusting … myself. I am just pushing it to the limit of being able to get back out there.”
Head coach Kevin Stefanski and coordinator Joe Woods have yet to see Williams perform in a game. But Stefanski said he learned a lot about Williams while he endured his tough times last season.
“It told me a ton about him,” Stefanski said. “Like anybody going through an injury, he had some tough moments there, but when he was in this building, he had a smile on his face and he worked really hard in that training room. I can tell you, we are all really excited to see him out on the field going through drills. To watch somebody rehab like he did, we are excited about where he is going. He has some more work to do, but to see him back on the field and see No. 26 working is great.”
Without Williams available, the Browns’ secondary burned through a lot of cornerbacks in 2020. Several were not invited back. To upgrade the unit, GM Andrew Berry signed nickel back Troy Hill in free agency and then used the team’s No. 1 pick on cornerback Greg Newsome from Northwestern.
The battle for Williams’ old job might be the marquee one of Stefanski’s second training camp.
“Greg is a great kid, nice footwork and smart,” Williams said. “I am happy for him. First round, came here and came to an up-and-coming franchise. I am happy for him. I am happy for this team and happy for the organization. I am just ready to get to work with my brothers and put the work in.
“Do I have to prove myself? I think the coaches know what I bring to the table, but every day I am trying to prove myself to myself. I am just competing with myself every day I go out there to be better than I was yesterday.”
Chief of staff on suspension
Stefanski said that chief of staff Callie Brownson has been suspended by the team but will not lose her job as a result of a drunken driving incident on May 27. Brownson pled no contest to a charge of operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) on Tuesday.
Brownson’s blood alcohol level of .215 was more than twice the Ohio legal limit of .08.
She paid $780 in fines and court costs, had her license suspended a year and was ordered to attend a three-day driver intervention program.
It is not expected that Brownson will receive further discipline by the NFL.
Stefanski, who has sought to develop Brownson into a future NFL head coach candidate, said, “Callie obviously is very remorseful. She is going to learn from this, and we will support her along the way.”
“I have spoken to her many of times, and she will learn from this. Hopefully, we will all be in a better place after this.”
Stefanski confirmed TLOD speculation that the Browns and New York Giants will conduct two joint practices in Berea prior to the teams’ preseason game Aug. 22 in FirstEnergy Stadium. Stefanski had joint practices scheduled with the Packers last summer, but they were canceled because of the pandemic. “They are great,” he said. “Over the years, I have done them, and I think you can get a ton out of them. It certainly ramps up the intensity, but guys take care of each other and know that they are getting in good work ahead of a game. I just think it is a great time in a controlled environment to get really good work against different schemes than your own.” …
Media counted 58 players at Wednesday’s OTA session, up three from the previous Wednesday. New arrivals included safety John Johnson, Hill, receiver KhaDarel Hodge and backup quarterback Case Keenum. “He wanted to come in and get some work with the guys,” Stefanski said. Starting offensive players continued to honor the boycott of voluntary sessions called by center JC Tretter, the players union president. Several of them joined quarterback Baker Mayfield at a passing camp in Austin, TX. Stefanski reacted coldly to a question of whether he had given Mayfield any instructions on what to emphasize with his receivers. “My jurisdiction for the offseason program does not extend past Berea,” Stefanski said …
With the preseason shortened to three games this year, Stefanski said he intended to treat the third preseason game (Aug. 29 in Atlanta) as a dress rehearsal, meaning starting players would see action. “But I want to make sure that we take in all of the information prior to making decision on how much guys will play,” he said.