BEREA, Ohio — Browns left guard Joel Bitonio wasn’t too upset to see the offensive line and running game have a strong first day in pads on Saturday.
“As much as (defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) screams and has that defense rallied up, it was nice, from my perspective, to get a couple runs in,” he said the day after getting his first work in team drills since having Lisfranc surgery that ended his 2016 season.
Before Bitonio said that, though, he admitted that he was expecting a very different defense.
“I’m expecting to see some blitzes or something crazy today at practice,” he said, “so it will be an exciting show.”
Bitonio wasn’t in team drills on Sunday to face those blitzes, but he did get to see them from the sideline. Williams’ defense accounted for six sacks — or would-be-sacks, since defenders can’t actually tackle the quarterback during practices.
That’s not to say that the defense was flawless. The ball found the endzone Sunday more than any other day in camp, including multiple times during the practice-ending red zone drill. It was still tougher sledding, though, especially on the ground.
A couple running backs were able to stand out Sunday, including Matthew Dayes, the next-to-last-pick in April’s draft, and Duke Johnson, who made a diving catch in the endzone and took a swing pass into the endzone, too, both in red zone drills and both from quarterback Brock Osweiler. (More on Johnson later.)
The real optimism for success running the ball comes in the men up front. Bitonio was part of the team’s big investment in the interior of the offensive line, signing a contract extension to go along…
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