BEREA -- Receivers coach Al Saunders just wants Corey Coleman to stay healthy.
Saunders said Coleman, the No. 15 pick in 2016, was having a “terrific” organized team activities before he got hurt again. He missed more than a week of OTAs, then the three-day minicamp that wrapped up Thursday.
Browns Senior Offensive Assistant Al Saunders walks on the field during practice on Thursday, June 15.
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“I’m disappointed for him that he can’t continue to grow in the fundamentals and skills at his position,” Saunders said Thursday. “He missed a significant amount of time last training camp. He missed a significant amount of time during the season.”
Coleman continues to be plagued by hamstring injuries. They were an issue at Baylor and cost him much of training camp last season. He then missed six games during the season with a broken hand.
“He’s just got to get his hamstring stronger and he’s got to get himself in shape and he’ll be ready to go,” Saunders said.
Saunders said he believes Coleman injured his shoulder when he landed hard making a catch during OTAs but that it’s the hamstring that kept him out of minicamp. He did participate in the walkthroughs.
“I think that everybody would tell you that the only reason he was kept out this last week was precautionary,” Saunders said. “We just didn’t feel like it was something that we wanted to expose him to and it wasn’t worth it if he was going to miss any time in preparation for training camp or in training camp.”
Coleman (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) caught 33 passes in 10 games as a rookie for 413 yards, a 12.5 average and three touchdowns. Saunders saw a big jump this offseason before the latest setback.
“The way he understands the offense now is so much better than he did last year when he first came in and we all know that Corey had a long way to go,” he said. “We tell all the guys you want to be a member of the -able family. You want to be dependable, reliable, accountable but, most of all, available. That’s the most important part there is. If you’re available and you practice, you can get better.”
CHANGE IS HERE
Cornerback Joe Haden got the message.
Haden told reporters earlier in the offseason that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told him in their first meeting it was a good thing he played through two torn groin muscles last year, because if he hadn’t he wouldn’t be here.
“I think I got his attention,” Williams said Thursday. “That’s all it is. There are lots of ways to go. Pat you on the back -- that hasn’t worked here, so why would we be surprised that all of a sudden we have to do something different?
“My job is to effect change. If you can’t effect change, you have to do something else. He has been extremely focused. I don’t care how I did it. You should see how hard he’s worked in the weight room. That’s his idea. That’s not my idea. That’s great.”
FROM 10 TO 1
Tight end David Njoku, the No. 25 pick, signed his rookie contract. It’s for four years and about $9.5 million, including a $5 million signing bonus, and comes with a fifth-year team option.
Browns' tight end David Njoku (85) warms up during practice on Thursday, June 15.
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“Dolla dolla bills y’all,” he tweeted. “#AllGod #ChiefGotPaid.”
Safety Jabrill Peppers, the 29th pick, is the only one of the 10 draft picks unsigned.
Njoku (6-4, 246) played 26 games with nine starts at Miami. He’s only 20 years old.
He made plays throughout the offseason program and finished minicamp with a nice touchdown catch with safety Ed Reynolds in tight coverage.
“He’s a very athletic guy, there aren’t a lot of people in the country that are 250 pounds and are also 7-foot high jumpers,” tight ends coach Greg Seamon said. “That part of it is really evident. He’s young, he’s developing, he’s got a great work ethic. I’m excited about his potential.”
GOOD AND AWFUL
Defensive line coach Clyde Simmons didn’t hold back when assessing rookie sixth-round pick Caleb Brantley.
“Caleb is a unique personality, a unique player,” Simmons said. “He shows first-round talent at times and then he shows somebody who shouldn’t be playing at other times, and my job is to get him playing at a consistent level, a consistent high level.”
Brantley was available in the sixth round because he was under investigation for an alleged assault in Florida. He’s been cleared.
Simmons was asked if effort is to blame for the inconsistency.
“Effort, all the stuff,” he said. “He’s like every young player that comes in this league. They’ve got an idea about what they want and what they think they can do, but you have to learn to play it the way we want you to play it.”
Is the coaching sinking in?
“Absolutely, it’s getting through,” Simmons said. “From the time he stepped in for minicamp until he stepped off the field today was night and day.”
Tank Carder has started two games in five NFL seasons, the last in 2013, but he’s been working as the first-team middle linebacker since Demario Davis was traded. Linebackers coach Blake Williams, Gregg’s son, said Carder could still be there Week 1 against the Steelers.
“His teammates are comfortable with him, his teammates have played with him a long time, we’re comfortable with that,” Williams said. “Just a savvy vet who’s been around the league a long time, knows things, knows things about offense, knows things about defense. Can kind of drive the ship out there and has done a good job at that.”
Carder has a leg up, but Williams said it’s a competition and nothing is set. Second-year linebackers Joe Schobert (fourth-round pick) and Dominique Alexander (undrafted) are in the mix.
- Saunders said he’d be shocked if former Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor, who signed a one-year contract with Washington, didn’t make the Pro Bowl this season.
- Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said Peppers is working at punt returner and kickoff returner.
- Safety Calvin Pryor practiced in team drills for the first time since being acquired June 1 in a trade and intercepted Cody Kessler in the end zone.
- Rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick, drilled a winning 45-yard field goal in a two-minute drill.
- Center JC Tretter and receiver Kenny Britt returned to practice. Britt wore a small video camera on his helmet during individual drills.