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Browns take show to Akron

8/7/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

On the Mark — By Craig Marks

Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel used his speed to buy time during the Family Day scrimmage Aug. 2 at InfoCision Stadium.
Brian Shea, of Mentor, sports a makeshift Manziel jersey at the Browns Family Day.
Photos: Craig Marks
DOWNTOWN AKRON — During the Cleveland Browns’ Family Day event, InfoCision Stadium had a definite autumnal air about it.

The InfoCision stands were a sea of orange and brown for the Browns’ first scrimmage of the year, held at The University of Akron on-campus football field because the Browns’ own stadium is undergoing renovations. Add in dipping temperatures, and you had a day that felt more like mid-September than Aug. 2.

Many fans were wearing jerseys of “heroes” from Browns seasons past, players like Trent Richardson, Brady Quinn and Kellen Winslow Jr. Others wore the jersey of quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Browns’ much talked about — and fretted about — rookie.

Brian Shea, of Mentor, was wearing a hybrid of the two. He had repurposed his old Tim Couch No. 2 jersey, covering up Couch’s name with a large sticker. On the sticker, written with a felt tip marker, was “MANZIEL.”

Shea was impressed with the Family Day event.

“I like it,” he said. “I hope they do it again next year.”

The handful of people I interviewed had no trouble getting to the game, despite the convergence of large-scale events taking place at the time. My friends and I took West Exchange Street and parked on South Broadway Street, making it to the stadium after a painless 15-minute walk.

The free Family Day event was “football lite,” a fun-sized, abbreviated version of a regular game. The scrimmage, which began around 11:15 a.m. (15 minutes earlier than scheduled due to impending rain) had few breaks or delays. The players were told at which yard line to begin their drive, and off they went.

And off they were, just off enough to make a completed pass feel like a standout achievement. While Manziel and fellow quarterback Brian Hoyer both had their moments, neither looked in sync with the receiving corps. To put the best face on it would be to credit the Browns defense, which seemed to be more successful than the wide receivers at getting its hands on passes. The interception by Browns second-year outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, which he ran back 48 yards, was a highlight.

With threatening clouds on the horizon, the final horn blew around 12:30 p.m. and the players signed autographs for fans.

“It was pretty good,” said Bob Wiseman, of Silver Lake. “I thought it would last a little longer, though.”

The Browns’ training camp resumed Monday in Berea, its regular home. Where its home base will be in 2015, however, is a different story, as other locations, including Akron, are being considered.

Jeff Beck, of Akron, liked the idea of the Browns training at InfoCision Stadium.

“I think there are a huge number of Browns fans in Akron, and the facility is gorgeous here,” he said.

Doug Dieken, a former Browns offensive tackle and longtime member of its radio team, was asked his thoughts about the Browns training camp moving south to Akron.

“It would mean more gas mileage for me,” he said, smiling.

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