Monday, June 17, 2024

NFL minicamp updates: Browns QB Deshaun Watson throws in some drills

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It’s the second week of mandatory minicamps in the NFL, with 22 teams taking another critical step toward the starting line of the 2024 season. Ten teams got the mandatory ball rolling last week, with three taking the practice field Monday and another 19 on Tuesday.

ESPN’s NFL reporters will be found at each of the 22 locations this week, providing information on position battles, notable appearances from new faces, compelling quotes from coaches and players and updates on injuries and holdout situations.

Top NFL news of the day

Chiefs DL BJ Thompson out of hospital after cardiac arrest

Thompson, 25, suffered seizures and went into cardiac arrest Thursday while in a special teams meeting at the Chiefs’ practice facility. “The family thanks everyone for their prayers and wants to especially thank the Chiefs medical and training staff for their rapid response and professionalism throughout this situation,” agent Chris Turnage said in a statement provided to NFL Network.

Bucs LB Randy Gregory absent from mandatory minicamp

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said outside linebacker Randy Gregory had an unexcused absence this first day of mandatory minicamp and that the team will “deal with it.”

“It’s disappointing when anyone’s not here, but we’ll deal with it,” Bowles said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’ll deal with it. Right now, I’m only gonna coach the guys that’s here.”

The Bucs signed Gregory this offseason to a one-year deal worth $3 million with incentives that bolster it to $5 million. Per the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player missing mandatory minicamp with an unexcused absence results in a $16,953 fine for the first day, $33,908 for the second day and $50,855 for a third day.

Amari Cooper’s absence unexcused as Browns begin minicamp

Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper was not in attendance for the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday, an absence coach Kevin Stefanski said was not excused.

Stefanski would not confirm if Cooper’s absence was contract-related but said “there’s been a dialogue” between the team and Cooper’s agent.

Cooper, who turns 30 next Monday, is entering the final year of a five-year, $100 million deal he originally signed as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. He has a base salary of $20 million in 2024, none of which is guaranteed.

What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson increased his activity in practice as he returns from last November’s season-ending shoulder surgery. Watson had his most extensive practice to date, throwing passes in seven-on-seven drills, which he didn’t do during OTAs. Previously, he would take mental reps and simulate throws in team drills. Watson took mental reps during 11-on-11 drills on Tuesday.

After practice, coach Kevin Stefanski said Watson will continue to abide by his current regimen and throw every other day this week.

“I thought he looked good,” Stefanski said. “Made good decisions. You get mental reps when you’re back there and then it’s a little different when you’re taking the snap from the center or the shotgun. But, I thought he did a nice job.”

Watson said he plans to throw with his pass-catchers during the break before training camp but will have to continue to follow his medical team’s plan. — Daniel Oyefusi

Without Aaron Rodgers (unexcused absence), the Jets got their first extended look at backup QB Tyrod Taylor, who ran the first-team offense in practice. It was a mixed day for Taylor. He aced the 7-on-7 period, delivering the ball quickly and accurately, but he struggled in an 11-on-11 red zone period. His last four plays of the period: Three incomplete passes and one fumbled exchange with rookie RB Isaiah Davis. The Jets experienced life without Rodgers last season, as he missed the final 16 games with a torn Achilles — and it wasn’t pretty. Determined to upgrade at QB2, they signed the well-traveled Taylor ($8 million guarantee) and jettisoned Zach Wilson. On Tuesday, coach Robert Saleh called Taylor an “elite human and an elite leader.” Maybe so, but this team still needs Rodgers at quarterback. Saleh tried to downplay his absence, saying the four-time MVP had notified them in advance that he had a previous commitment. Still, it’s never a good look when your team leader is skipping out on a mandatory event. — Rich CImini

Rookie QB Drake Maye took repetitions Monday immediately after Jacoby Brissett, which marked the second week in a row he did so. This was a change from the initial weeks of spring practices when it was Brissett, Bailey Zappe and then Maye. Coaches have downplayed the depth chart in spring practices, but not only has Maye seemed to leapfrog Zappe at this point, he’s also receiving significantly more repetitions than him. Maye had a 20-yard TD to TE La’Michael Pettway on a laser under the goal posts, and another impressive sideline hookup with rookie WR Ja’Lynn Polk after climbing the pocket. — Mike Reiss

One of the most improved players this spring has been second-year receiver Parker Washington. Head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor have each said there are two main reasons: his health and confidence. Washington was dealing with the aftermath of an ankle injury at Penn State when he was drafted and missed eight games with the Jaguars because of a knee injury. He was thrust into a prominent role after Christian Kirk‘s groin injury and caught 16 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in nine games.

“Parker’s definitely playing more confidently,” Taylor said. “I think he’s a lot healthier than he was this time last year when we got him, but just things slow down as guys [go into their second year]. … He knows the expectations of that particular player in that particular concept, and so now you just see the skill set start to come out. That confidence is a big thing and he will continue to grow.”. — Michael DiRocco

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