BEREA — Defensive lineman Jayme Mitchell is one of the strangest stories of training camp.
On Oct. 5, 2010, Browns general manager Tom Heckert traded for Mitchell, who was originally signed by Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Since then, Mitchell appeared in 29 games for the Vikings and recorded 29 tackles and five sacks.
When he arrived in Cleveland last fall, former head coach Eric Mangini never used him in the Browns’ remaining 12 games.
The Browns resigned Mitchell for coming season and he has finally arrived in Berea where he is anxious to get on the field. Mitchell, along with all other NFL players who were involved in transactions, must wait until Aug. 4 to suit up because that date is when the new collective bargaining agreement is expected to be finished.
On Monday, Mitchell (6-foot-6, 285 pound) had more reporters around him after his first practice this year than he did all of last season.
“I’m a competitor,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to play and get on the field, but I’m not living in the past.”
Did Mitchell ever ask Mangini about why he was brought to the Browns, but never played?
“We had a few conversations,” Mitchell said. “Yes, I was kind of curious.”
Mitchell thought the Browns had a plan for him, but said he was never told how he might fit in.
“They never said there was a plan, but just the way some of the assistant coaches hinted about things, I just sensed it, that’s all,” he said. “I just came in and tried to learn the 3-4.”
Mitchell had never played in the 3-4 prior to arriving with the Browns.
Whether the front office knew there was going to be a coaching change or an alignment change to the 4-3, Mitchell still thought he would be back with the Browns.
He said he talked with the Browns before the lockout, but after looking around, decided the Browns were his best opportunity.
“We tested the market with a few teams, but this was the best fit,” he said.
Heckert made it known that Mitchell was one of the top priorities in free agency. On several occasions, Heckert mentioned Mitchell by name as a free agent target.
Before Mitchell was acquired by the Browns, he played in two games with the Vikings, but was inactive for the Browns for all 12 games.
Pat Shurmur admitted there wasn’t much to go on last season with Mitchell.
“(Mitchell) was a lot on Tom’s recommendation because I hadn’t seen him in person,” Shurmur said. “He’s a terrific looking guy. He’s rangy, long arms, a sturdy pass rusher.”
Mitchell is looking forward to playing in the 4-3 once again.
“The (4-3 scheme) is very similar to what I had played in Minnesota,” he said. “I’m happy about it.”
Mitchell, 27, is in his sixth season from Mississippi and he is being projected as the Browns starting right end.
“I’m looking forward to playing,” he said. “I just want to win.”
Does he feel added pressure to be the team’s big move in free agency regarding a pass rusher? The Browns did not go after Ray Edwards, Charles Johnson or Jason Babin, the perceived big-name rushers.
“I want to get to the quarterback and put him on his back,” the soft-spoken Mitchell said. “I’m most definitely going to live up to it and be a good pass rusher.
“I feel like I need to come in and get the job done.”
Mitchell admitted there are perks to being a pass rusher.
“It is a lot of fun to get to the quarterback.”
Cribbs, Carlton Mitchell, Steinbach, Watson Still Out: WR Josh Cribbs (knee), WR Carlton Mitchell (shoulder), OL Eric Steinbach (knee) and TE Ben Watson (concussion) were held out of drills Monday.
“(Cribbs’) got a knee and we just wanted to keep him out to let it settle down,” Shurmur said. “Same with Carlton, we’re letting his (shoulder) settle.”
When asked about Steinbach (knee), Shurmur said he expects Steinback to be “out there in a couple days.”
Shurmur confirmed that Watson suffered a concussion on Saturday and his timeline hasn’t been disclosed. He was on the sidelines.
“I’ll be good to go,” Cribbs said. “They’re just letting it rest, calm down and getting treatment.”
Cribbs said the MRI and all the tests were negative.
Nothing on Bunkley: The Browns have yet to confirm the trade for DL Broderick Bunkley with the Eagles. Shurmur was asked after practice about Bunkley.
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
The Browns reportedly traded a fifth-round pick to the Eagles for him Saturday, but there is obviously something hanging up the trade.
New O-Lineman: Recently acquired OL John Greco was on the sidelines, but not practicing yet. He will wear No. 77.
Shurmur had Greco on his line while he was the offensive coordinator the previous two seasons in St. Louis.
“John, to me, is a versatile guy,” Shurmur said. “He can play left guard, right guard and even played left tackle a couple of years ago with a club on his hand.”
Shurmur didn’t say where Greco will start out.
“He’s a good pass protector and you can run the ball behind him,” Shurmur said. “He can compete for a spot and if he’s not playing, he can play anywhere.”
Greco (6-4, 315) played high school football at Bernie Kosar’s alma mater, Boardman High School, in Youngstown. Greco played his college ball at Toledo.
Greco, 26, was drafted by the Rams in the third-round and is in his fourth season with four starts in 26 games. The Browns acquired him for an undisclosed draft choice in 2012. It is believed to be a seventh-round pick, based on Greco’s limited playing time.
Big Guns: QB Jarrett Brown from West Virginia has shown early on in practices that he has a big arm.
“He has been a pleasant surprise,” Shurmur said. “He’s big, solid and a sturdy guy. He’s shown up well thus far.”
There has been some question about QB Colt McCoy’s arm strength, but he has been making the throws in practice and lofted a perfect strike down the sideline to WR Demetrius Williams for a touchdown. The ball went at least 45 to 50 yards in the air.
Coming into camp, QB Seneca Wallace was considered to have the strongest arm of the quarterbacks.