Law of inverse achievement
Lacking on the field, the Browns overachieve in the caf
Updated: Saturday July 28, 2001 3:36 AM
This is the fifth in a series of postcards Sports Illustrated's Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training camp tour.
Thursday, July 26
Team: Cleveland Browns
Site: Berea, Ohio
Five observations from practice that you just can't get anywhere else:
(Well, there was no practice Thursday. Butch Davis cancelled the final day for rookies and selected vets, so let me rename this item: Five observations from hanging around the Browns for a day that you just can't get anywhere else .)
1. Tim Couch, a resilient sort, has everyone around the team pumped up that he's going to play well in new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' offense.
2. The secondary, I believe, won't be nearly good enough to support a solid defensive line. Cleveland could get shredded by the pass again.
3. The Browns sound about two weeks away from getting Gerard Warren into camp, but that shouldn't prevent him from starting opening day.
4. Second-round receiver Quincy Morgan needs a shot of work ethic. He and my-way-or-the-highway receivers coach Terry Robiskie will clash early and often. When Robiskie is done with this kid, Morgan will take a place right alongside Michael Westbrook as a player who never got the most out of his ability because he didn't want it enough.
5. The Browns have the look of a 5-11 team that should be happy the Bengals are in the same division.
Opinion/factoid that might be interesting only to me: Don't ever forget who owns this town. On the morning the Indians beat the White Sox to stay tied atop the AL Central, the lead story in The Plain Dealer's sports section was a Spergon Wynn feature. Spergon Wynn is fourth on the Browns' depth chart at quarterback.
The food: I have been as far north as Mankato, as far south as Thibodaux, as far east as Smithfield, as far west as La Jolla while covering NFL training camps over the past 17 years. And I don't think I've had a camp meal better than the one I savored in the Browns' cafeteria this lunchtime. The review:
Overall grade: A-plus.
If the Browns played as well as they ate, they'd go 16-0.
Dear NFL Junkie ...
Each Wednesday afternoon for 10 or 15 minutes, I'm a guest on a Buffalo sports talk show hosted by former Bills assistant coach Chuck Dickerson. He opens the phone lines to his callers, and on about 49 of 52 weeks a year, the first guy in line is Don from Mount Morris. I don't know Don. Never met him. But I am convinced he is the biggest Browns fan outside of Cuyahoga County. He has asked me questions about Browns events important and minute. A couple of weeks ago, he actually called in and asked me for a review on Wynn's performance in NFL Europe.
I wasn't too up on that one.
Anyway, this one's for Don.
Talking to Davis over the past couple of months, I've become very interested in a running back named James Jackson, the team's third-round pick from Miami who was coached by Davis in college. Jackson also backed up Edgerrin James for two years. Now he has a chance to win the Browns' starting running back job, almost by default. These things happen when the competition is named Errict Rhett and Travis Prentice.
So I sat down for a spell with the 5-foot-10, 209-pound kid from the sticks of Florida this morning. Well-built in the shoulders, strong in the arms. Big smile on his face. After we talked football for a while, I said to him, "You look like a kid on Christmas Eve who can't wait to open his presents."
He laughed, thinking ahead to Friday's first full-squad, full-pad practice. "Well, I can't wait for practice to start," he said. "I've dreamed about being an NFL player since I was a kid. My younger brother and I stayed in a room with bunk beds. I was on top. And I remember going to bed at night, looking up at the sky from the top bunk, and thinking, 'I'm gonna play in the NFL someday.'
"I grew up in a football town -- Belle Glade, Fla. All kinds of football players come from there. Jessie Hester. Fred Taylor. Reidel Anthony. I wanted it so bad. The guys kid me about how I practice now. I bust through the line, and it doesn't matter if it's 90 yards away, I'm running all the way to the end zone. That's how I was taught to practice."
And two-a-days, was he looking forward to those?
"Coming from Florida and playing in college at Miami, you better love football," he said. "Because you're going to practice twice a day in August all the time. I won't mind it here at all."
I said that he didn't have a lot of teammates who were as eager as he was to start twice-daily workouts in full pads.
"I know," he said, "but I can't imagine not playing football. The other day I started thinking, Where would I would I be without football? What would I be doing? And I honestly don't know. I hope I don't have to find out for a while."
If Davis is right about the kid, he won't have to find out for a long while.
Next up: Jacksonville