The Browns show promise in a red-zone drill in training camp — a big departure from what they showed all last year in real games.
“Red zone!” a coach yelled.
A buzz rose in the big training-camp crowd as the Browns gathered on the southeast practice field.
Cornerback Joe Haden lined up over wideout Mohamed Massaquoi 20 feet from the gallery ropes. Massaquoi took off, straining to get open during a 20-yard run down the right sideline.
Haden wore Massaquoi like a diving suit. Suddenly, Massaquoi stopped. Haden lunged backward. Brandon Weeden fired a strike to the wide-open target.
“You can do that when you push somebody hard enough,” Haden groused.
No officials. No flag. No protest from coaches. Touchdown.
Last year, it was more like ... red zone? What’s the red zone.
Cleveland made fewer trips into the red zone — inside the 20-yard line — than any other AFC team in 2011.
The Browns set up shop there a miserable 31 times. Next worst was Kansas City at 36. New England led the league at 72.
The Browns were tied for the worst mark in the NFL, with the Rams.
Not only did the Browns fail to reach the red zone. They didn’t score once they got their. Only the Chiefs, Rams and 49ers scored a lower percentage of touchdowns once reaching the red zone.
These items are big reasons the Browns drafted the rocket-armed Weeden.
One of the biggest cheers in camp Wednesday came when Weeden set up at the 20 and made a play-action fake. Weeden pump faked then looked to the middle of the field, where he threw a bullet over the middle to tight end Benjamin Watson.
Now ... can he do that in a game?
‘This year’s project’
Browns president Mike Holmgren says he has told rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon, “You are my special project.”
Alluding to marijuana use and issues that marred Gordon’s college career, Holmgren said, “He’s a good player who got gummed up a little bit. You talk to him, and he’s a really good kid.”
Holmgren says he has told Gordon he will not let him stray from a regimen that will keep him in good stead as his NFL career unfolds.
He admitted it is ultimately up to the player to take care of his own business.
Three defensive line starters — tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin and end Frostee Rucker — all missed Wednesday practice.
Taylor will miss the first month or two of the season. Rubin is recovering from minor surgery. Rucker is new to the injury list.
“He’ll be back soon,” head coach Pat Shurmur said, avoiding any details of Rucker’s problem.
Page 2 of 2 - Tickets going fast
Single-game seats went on sale Wednesday. Later in the day, the Browns announced that home games against the Eagles on Sept. 9, the Bills on Sept. 23 and the Steelers on Nov. 25 are sold out.
The team also announced that less than 1,000 seats remain for the Oct. 14 game against the Bengals.
To inquire about tickets, log on to www.clevelandbrowns.com or call 800-745-3000 or 800-943-4327.
• The Browns will conduct single practices today and Friday mornings. Both are scheduled to run from 8:45 to 11:15.
• Former Browns running back Greg Pruitt was escorted around practice by ex-Browns teammate Doug Dieken. At one point, Dieken introduced Pruitt to Holmgren.
• Bernie Kosar, who knows Holmgren well, also took in Wednesday’s practice. Kosar says the biggest thing for Weeden will be to prove an ability to read defenses.
• Colt McCoy says he knows the offense much better than he did last year. Several players have complimented him for his reading of defenses in camp so far.