BEREA, Ohio — Joel Bitonio now has a good idea of what his bobblehead will look like when the time comes.
He was a human, life-sized version of the mini-statue Thursday at practice when he wore the new, protective Guardian Cap over his helmet for concussion prevention.
Bitonio is in one of the groups required to wear the caps during practice through the second preseason game due to a joint decision by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Position groups include the Offensive line, defensive line, tight ends and linebackers.
“I already have a big head, so my head’s going to be even more bobbleheaded out,” Bitonio said. “You learn to roll with it.”
In all seriousness, Bitonio is all for making the game safer.
“We have all these issues with concussions and you see guys. Unfortunately later in life — and football, I think most guys know the danger — so if there’s a way, I poked fun at it, but if there’s a way to protect the head when you can, I think it’s a positive movement,” he said. “I’m not a guy that’s going to like headbang the whole game anyway.
“I try to use technique and hands and shoulders and different levers instead of your head. I know some guys enjoy that, I guess, but for me I’d rather keep my head out of it as much as possible. Sometimes you have to, it’s football, but it’s another thing you can add to protect the players, we’re trying to get player safety and we want guys to live long, happy lives and if it helps a little bit for wearing a Guardian helmet for a couple of weeks, I think it’s worth it.”
The Rookies wore them last week when it was just them and the quarterbacks in camp, but they didn’t provide any feedback.
“I think the guys are open to it,” Kevin Stefanski said. “Like anything, I’m sure there’s going to be [some] getting used to it … I think it will just become the norm likely in our game.”
Anthony Schwartz leaves with a knee injury
Schwartz, trying to rebound from his Rocky Rookie year, left practice with a left knee injury and didn’t return. It happened during a route without defenders. He’ll undergo further evaluation, which will likely include an MRI or other imaging tests.
With Rookie David Bell (foot) on PUP for a couple of weeks, the Browns are getting a little short at the position. But if they don’t add someone, it will give young players such as sixth-round pick Michael Woods II and undrafted rookie Isaiah Weston a chance at more reps.
Bell, who should be back in a couple of weeks, worked off to the side with a trainer.
The following players didn’t practice: WR David Bell (foot), T Jack Conklin (knee), DT Sheldon Day (back), LB Anthony Walker Jr. (groin), CB Denzel Ward (foot) and WR Javon Wims (illness ).
The Browns practiced outside
The Browns worked outside for the first time after moving indoors on Wednesday because of rain. They still worked at a Walkthrough pace, with no offense vs. defense. It marked the second of three straight practices closed to the public, with fans being welcomed on Saturday. The first day in pads will be Tuesday.
* Amari Cooper talked about having a chip on his shoulder from having been traded by the Cowboys for a fifth-round pick.
“To be traded and stuff like that, it’s motivating,” he said. “If you don’t have a chip on your shoulder, then what do you have, even if you don’t get traded or released by a team. There should always be some type of motivating factor there.”
* John Johnson III Senses better Chemistry than last season, his first with the Browns
“It’s a lot different, like the vibe is way better,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just me, but everyone feels that same vibe like we got a lot of guys back, that continuity is huge, especially on defense, so it’s fun and we’re enjoying it and we can’t wait to get out on the field.”
They said it
Cooper, on handling the QB rotation:
“Like I said, at the end of the day, no matter who’s back there, if I get open, it’s going to be easy for them. If I don’t get open, it’s going to be hard for them. Every time I push the line of scrimmage, I’m trying to create as much separation as possible. I’m just looking at a ball spiraling to me at the end of the day.”
John Johnson III is Grant Delpit and the three safeties, including Ronnie Harrison Jr.:
“I mean, (Delpit) could be one of the best, like period,” Johnson said. “In the game that we got today, our safeties we don’t really get mentioned in those top tier safeties so I think this is an opportunity for us. We know each other and we feed off each other and I think we can be the best trio in the league and I’m just looking forward to it.”
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