BEREA—One of the most noticeable additions to the Browns offense during the off-season was the addition of two veteran wide receivers in Davone Bess and David Nelson.
Nelson was on the field for the first time Tuesday, although not practicing as he recovers from a torn ACL that cost him the final 15 games of the 2012 season.
However, Bess’ presence has been noticeable. He and Brandon Weeden have already looked to have found a connection in the short time he’s been here.
Weeden hit Bess across the middle for a deep completion during the first day of minicamp and the two hooked up several times throughout the scrimmage sessions.
“It’s nice because you have a veteran who has had a lot of success,” Weeden said. “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He rubs off on people. He’s a true pro.”
Bess feels he and Weeden are getting their chemistry down.
“A big part is repetition,” he said. “The more reps you get the more work you get is the amount of reps is the biggest thing. Every day the whole unit is getting better.”
Rob Chudzinski has seen what he expected from Bess since he’s been here. He thinks Bess will be a good example for young receivers Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin.
“Davone’s been great,” Chudzinski said. “He instantly brought leadership to us. He knows what it takes to be a pro and knows what it takes to be a leader. He shows players the right way to do things.”
Bess is looked upon as being a veteran who can help the young receivers the Browns have, despite being just 27 years old himself.
“I am really looking forward to joining this group of receivers,” he said. “Obviously, (the Browns) have a lot of young, talented guys. My job is to come in and share my knowledge and help out not only as a receiver but from my experience.”
Bess came into the NFL the hard way and said it was a blessing in disguise.
“Looking back, being undrafted (from Hawaii) and then thrown into the fire as a rookie gave me some good experience,” he said. “Opportunity is a big part of this league and I’m thankful to Miami for giving me the chance to play.”
The Browns acquired Bess and a fourth-round pick (111th overall) and a seventh-round pick (217th overall). The fourth-round pick was traded to the Steelers for their third-round pick next season and the seventh-round pick was used to take Armonty Bryant. The Browns gave up their fourth-round pick (104th overall) and fifth-round pick (164th overall acquired in the Colt McCoy trade) in the move.
Bess has caught 267 passes since 2009, which is the 14th most productive receiver in the NFL in that time span.
The Dolphins spent a lot of money in the off-season by signing free agents Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and re-signing Brian Hartline and felt Bess was expendable.
“You can’t be surprised in this business,” Bess said.
Bess (5-10, 190) is excited to be a part of the Browns where he is expected to play a big role, especially on third downs.
“I’m a get it done type of guy,” he said. “Whatever my role is I’m going to maximize it 110 percent.”
Bess has averaged over 65 receptions a season the last four years, but he thinks he can do better.
“I hope to bring more production to Cleveland,” he said. “Getting 60-61 catches is good, but I left a lot of catches last year on the field and I hope to have more production (moving forward).”
Bess didn’t join the Browns until the trade was made during the draft, but feels he’s picked up the offense pretty quickly.
“I’m feeling good with the offense and the more reps you get the more comfortable with the offense,” he said. “The closer we get to camp the more comfortable I am.
“It’s just a matter of putting it together,” he said. “We have a lot of big, young guys who are raw and it is just putting it together.”
Chudzinski sees a lot of potential in what Bess brings to the Browns.
“Davone is a proven receiver who has been extremely productive throughout his career,” Chudzinski said. “He possesses outstanding hands and separation skills, while also showing the ability to pick up yards in key situations. Because of his talent and experience, we feel as though he can come in and help us right away.”
Bess has been very productive in the slot, especially on third down.
“I take extreme pride in being productive on third down,” Bess said. “For the coaches putting me in a position to be productive has been important and I have played my role to the best of my ability.”
Mike Lombardi said after the trade that Bess’ production was certainly attractive to the Browns.
“I think because he has produced in the league certainly is attractive, and I think he’s got the ability,” Lombardi said. “He’s proven on tape against really good competition. So it wasn’t a question of looking at it any deeper than he could make plays against people that we have to play against and he’s been very productive.”
Chud not Concerned about T Rich: Chudzinski said he expects RB Trent Richardson to be ready for the start of training camp on July 26.
“We’re just holding him (back),” Chudzinski said. “He could’ve (practiced). It’s precautionary. He has the full summer to get healthy.”
“My expectation is he will be ready Day One of training camp.”
The first full day of training camp is scheduled for July 26.
Richardson was not available for comment, but is scheduled to talk with the media on Wednesday after practice.
A report on ESPN Cleveland said the Browns were worried that Richardson’s injury might develop into a stress fracture.
“I don’t know about the medical (concerns),” Chudzinski said. “He has a strain and we just don’t want it to get worse.”
Chudzinski said the biggest part for a running back is the mental aspect and Richardson has been involved in every aspect of the installation process.
“He will be able to make it up,” Chudzinski said. “The biggest thing with a back is the mental reps and he’s really stayed into it.
“The mental part is the most important part for a running back and getting into game shape.”
Nelson Back: WR David Nelson was on the field for the first time with the Browns after spending the off-season rehabbing his surgically repaired knee in Dallas with his preferred trainer. He tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 season while playing for the Bills.
The Browns signed him as an unrestricted free agent.
“He’s in good shape,” Chudzinski said. “He’s really close. If we wanted to push him (he could practice). He’s had a great rehab.”
Chudzinski said Nelson has had the play book with him on his iPad and he expects he’ll pick up the offense quickly.
“He’s a sharp guy and has picked up quickly (the offense),” he said. “The biggest thing is getting the knee right.”
Nelson was on a mission trip to Haiti recently while the Browns were going through OTAs.
“It’s nice to get back out here,” Nelson said. “I’m about 90 percent and am able to run routes.”
Nelson said he could be practicing.
“I’ve been taking it easy,” he said. “I didn’t want to practice and have a setback.
“My goal is training camp.”
Chudzinski concurred with Nelson’s timetable.
“He’s on schedule and we expect him to be ready.”
Suspension Looming?: There has been rumors that one of the Browns players will be suspended by the NFL. Chudzinski was asked after Tuesday’s practice if he was aware of that happening.
“I don’t know anything about that.”
Line them Up: John Greco lined up at left guard and Shawn Lauvao at right guard during the team 11-on-11 scrimmages. Jason Pinkston worked with the second team at left guard.
Buster Skrine and Chris Owens lined up opposite of Joe Haden at cornerbacks with Tashaun Gipson and T.J. Ward at safety. No. 1 draft choice Barkevious Mingo worked with the second team behind Jabaal Sheard at right outside linebacker. Paul Kruger was at left outside linebacker after missing OTAs for a family matter.
Bike Brigade: WR Jordan Norwood (hamstring), DB Jamoris Slaughter (Achilles), RB Trent Richardson (leg), OL Chris Faulk (knee), WR David Nelson (knee) worked with trainers and rode the stationary bikes. Nelson worked on the side with trainers after not attending the OTAs.
Tryout Guy: The Browns invited DB Vernon Kearney (6-2, 185) to minicamp on a tryout basis. Kearney is a rookie undrafted free agent from Lane College.