Summer Vacation Over: Browns Get Back To Work This Week

The complete Browns team will report by Friday and then depart for the opening of training camp in West Virginia, of all places, on Saturday.

The complete Browns team will report by Friday and then depart for the opening of training camp in West Virginia, of all places, on Saturday.

Summer vacation over: Browns get back to work this week

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.

Are you ready for some football?

You’ll have to wait until August 1 to see the Browns in person at their CrossCountry Mortgage Campus fields this summer. But one of the unique training camps and preseasons in the team’s expansion history actually begins this week.

Players start rolling into team headquarters on Wednesday. These include rookies, quarterbacks and select injured players. This group will have light workouts and walk-throughs and meetings on Thursday and Friday.

The remainder of the full team reports on Friday afternoon. That group will have meetings the rest of the day.

Then on Saturday morning, everybody departs on a short team flight to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WVA. The next nine days will be an unusual start-up to the Browns’ training camp – slowly ramped-up practices sandwiched around 24-hour team bonding activities amid utter opulence.  

The Browns will practice eight days and have one off day on the grounds of the 245-year-old luxury resort in the Allegheny Mountains that has hosted 28 U.S. Presidents, international royalty, thousands of A-1 celebrities, professional golf and tennis tournaments, and the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers.

Upon arrival on Saturday, the team will have a walk-through and conditioning tests in the afternoon on the resort’s manicured practice fields. All the other practices are scheduled for morning. Wednesday is the players’ mandatory day off.

The Browns won’t return to Berea until after practice on the morning of July 30. After an off day, they will hold their first practice at their team headquarters at 2 p.m. on August 1. That will be their only practice in Berea prior to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, August 3, against the New York Jets.

It’s the Browns’ first appearance in the HOF Game since their inaugural exhibition game to start their expansion era in 1999.

Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins will not be reuniting in Cleveland, after all. (Houston Chronicle)

Good luck, D-Hop

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins reportedly will sign with the Tennessee Titans for $26 million over two years, with a chance to reach $32 million in incentives.

A few takeaways:

* The Browns’ nonchalance toward pursuing Hopkins was no surprise, despite quarterback DeShaun Watson’s public pining for Watson.

Coach Kevin Stefanski was not blowing smoke when he stated, “I really, really like our wide receiver room. I love the guys that are in there.” The revamped receiver room – improved considerably by the additions of Elijah Moore, Marquise Goodwin and rookie third-round draft pick Cedric Tillman – had an excellent OTA and minicamp season. I believe their performance affirmed to GM Andrew Berry there was no reason to add Hopkins.

* Watson is savvy enough to know his public comments would help stir up a market for his former teammate. 

I don’t believe Watson is in any way upset or disappointed that the Browns didn’t aggressively pursue Hopkins. He knows what he has. He also knows that the Browns were never going to satisfy Hopkins for anything close to what he received from the Titans.

* Hopkins’ previous statements about what he was looking for in his new team was all bluster. He took the best deal he could get.

On the I AM ATHLETE podcast in May, Hopkins said he wanted to play with a quarterback “who loves the game like I do … a great defense … [and] stable management upstairs.”

So he’ll be catching passes from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, on a team with the 23rd-ranked defense in the NFL last year, and with a front office featuring a first-time GM in Ron Carthon.

The New England Patriots were the only other team to make an offer to Hopkins. Their quarterback, Mac Jones, seems to “love the game” as much as anyone. The Patriots’ defense ranked eighth overall last year and there is no more stable manager than Patriots czar Bill Belichick. 

The Patriots didn’t offer as much as the Titans and that is why Hopkins signed with Tennessee.

What’s left?

The leading NFL salary cap Websites – Overthecap and Spotrac – have the Browns’ salary cap space at $16.986 million and $16.436 million, respectively.

That’s easily enough room to make one more veteran purchase and have plenty left over in a rainy-day fund for future emergency expenditures during the season.

There are two position groups the Browns might be looking to bolster for depth reasons – offensive tackle and linebacker.

The best offensive tackles still unsigned are Taylor Lewan, George Fant and Eric Fisher.

The best linebackers unsigned are Zach Cunningham, Kyle Van Noy and Myles Jack.

All of these players are unsigned for good reasons. But if I had to make one more addition to the Browns’ roster before training camp it would be at offensive tackle. I am not comfortable with James Hudson and rookie Dawand Jones as the only backup offensive tackles.