CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve has had plenty of time to learn from his teammates after spending most of the first two weeks of training camp on the sidelines because of an injured hamstring.
And learn DeValve did from one of the best tight ends in all of football last season, Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge.
“It’s an extremely fortunate opportunity that I have, that we all have in that room -- the younger tight ends to learn from somebody who’s done it for a long time and done it very well,” DeValve said. “He’s like a coach. He’s very helpful for all of us. He asks really good questions. He processes the game on a higher level and sees things I need to learn to see about defenses. We’ve learned a lot from him.”
In 2015, Gary Barnidge came into the final season of his contract with the Browns having been on the receiving end of just 44 passes for 603 yards and three touchdowns over the first seven years of his NFL career, but when given an opportunity to show what he could do, the veteran tight end more than answered the bell.
With Jordan Cameron gone to the Miami Dolphins through free agency, Barnidge became a focal point of quarterbacks Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel, and earned his way to the Pro Bowl for the very first time in his career.
The Browns’ 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner for his work in the community, Barnidge more than tripled many of his single-season career highs last year. Barnidge turned 79 receptions into 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns, all of which led the Browns in 2015.
“Gary is a product of hard work and consistency,” DeValve said. “Coaches on this team depend on him and count on him. He’s built that trust by being consistent and doing things the right way, and that’s how he’s gotten where he is.”
Learning is something that comes naturally to DeValve, a product of Princeton University, and he calls the transition to the NFL an upper-level course.
“It is a little bit like going to school,” DeValve said. “You sit in meetings for probably half the day. We meet longer than we practice. Your notebook is open. Your playbook or textbook is open. Notes are on the screen. You’re looking at the screen and taking notes. It’s very much like going to school -- lots of detail.
“The playbook is thicker than most textbooks.”
But DeValve and the other tight ends have been working hard at learning football’s version of a textbook because of the opportunities they see in the Browns’ offense.
“There’s a huge importance on the second tight end, and also, a huge importance on the third tight end,” DeValve said. “This is an offense that loves tight ends and will use tight ends. There needs to be multiple guys in that room that know exactly what they’re doing and can execute at a high level. There’ll be multiple tight ends on the field at the same time. It’s very important.”