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Notes: Rookie DE Isaiah McGuire excited for ‘great opportunity’ to learn from Za’Darius Smith, add him to pass rush

BEREA — The rookies were back at the hotel after their first practice as pros when their new team made headlines.

The Browns had agreed Friday night to acquire three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Za’Darius Smith in a trade with the Vikings.

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“I was in my hotel room, actually, watching film and going over the playbook,” rookie fourth-round defensive end Isaiah McGuire said Saturday during the second day of rookie minicamp. “Seeing that and sending it to my family, us talking about what a great opportunity it is for me as a young player, adding that presence to the room and just overall and continuing to improve our pass rush.”


McGuire had figured to compete with Alex Wright, a third-round pick in 2022, to be the third end behind Myles Garrett and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. With the addition of Smith, some of the pressure will be off McGuire as he competes to be part of the rotation and perhaps rush from inside on third down.

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McGuire called it an honor and a blessing to add Smith to the group of players he can learn from in his quest to improve.

“It’s just exciting,” he said. “So when we play teams, when it comes to the season, we can just keep sending them. Everyone can stay fresh.

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“I heard a lot about Myles having to take a lot of reps last year and even my senior year at Mizzou, where we had a lot more depth on the defensive line. I understand that fresh legs for a player can really help him impact the game overall.”

Defensive tackle Siaki Ika, a third-round pick, should also benefit from the addition of Smith, who has 54.5 sacks in 107 career games,

“I’m real excited about it,” Ika said. “Someone else who’s been through everything to learn from.”

Cornerback Cam Mitchell, a fifth-round pick, found out about the trade like many fans.

“I was just scrolling on Twitter and I saw that. ‘OK, nice,’” he said. “Three-time Pro Bowler, big ol’ dude.”

The trade is expected to become official early in the week.

The Browns get Smith and sixth- and seventh-round draft picks in 2025. The Vikings get fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025.

Smith will receive $11.75 million in 2023 — a portion paid by the Vikings — and become a free agent after the season.


Ika didn’t know what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz meant when, in the moments after Ika was drafted, Schwartz told him he was no longer a “dump truck” but a “Ferrari.”

After meetings and one practice, the analogy made sense.

“I know for sure now,” Ika said.

Schwartz wants all his linemen to attack and disrupt, even a 6-foot-3, 335-pounder like Ika who was responsible for taking on double teams at Baylor.

“Everything’s explosive. Just being explosive, getting off the ball, getting vertical rather than just eating stuff up like a dump truck,” Ika said. “I don’t want to be a dump truck no more.”

Ika wants to drop some more weight to help his movement skills. The Browns believe he has the athleticism and explosion necessary to get into the backfield.

“It already has been a big adjustment for me, but it is something I enjoy,” he said. “In college when I was playing blocks, looking to take double teams, this is the scheme we were wishing for. So now that it’s here, I’m really excited to get in and get some work.”


Mitchell’s quickest route to the field will likely come on special teams. He was busy Saturday as practice ended with special teams drills.

“I expect special teams to be part of my role,” he said. “That’s something that I’m not running from but looking forward to.”

He’s getting acquainted with new special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone and has a strong background in the kicking game from his college days.

“All four years I played special teams,” Mitchell said. “Gunner, gunner blocking, punt, kickoff, kick return. You name it, I played it at Northwestern.”


Receiver Cedric Tillman has attacked the playbook.

“I’ve gotten into it a lot,” he said Friday before practice. “Like they said, that’s the No. 1 thing, you can’t be out there if you don’t know the plays. So just studying the playbook with the other receivers and other guys here, that’s my No. 1 priority right now.”

Tillman, a third-round pick, played in a relatively simple system at the University of Tennessee, so coach Kevin Stefanski’s scheme is more complicated.

“It’s definitely different, but I had a lot of different coaches and different offenses while I was in college, so it’s nothing I can’t handle,” Tillman said.

Tillman wore No. 89 for the minicamp but isn’t married to it.

“Right now it’s the number that was available, but I’m not focused on a number right now,” he said. “I’m just focused on buying into the Cleveland Brown culture and ultimately getting a spot on the team.”


Tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr., receivers Daylen Baldwin and Mike Harley Jr. and safety Bubba Bolden were among the non-rookies at camp. They spent time with the Browns last season.

** The Browns had six players in for tryouts, most notably cornerback Quincy Wilson (6-2, 195), who was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2017. He’s started 11 of 33 games.

** “I love the team meeting of rookie minicamp because everybody’s in there 15 minutes early,” Stefanski said Friday. “Notebooks are open, pens are in their hands.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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