BEREA, Ohio -- The familiar sounds of pops and cracks of football practice are set to return to Berea.
After two acclimation days to start training camp, the Cleveland Browns are ready to get down to the business of football, and that starts in earnest today, as for the first time, the players will go through their first fully-padded practice at the team’s practice facility.
“It is going to be fun,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “It is going to be a good day. I truly believe that to get your team ready, you have to play football.
“When you put on pads, it is blocking and tackling and doing those things, but it is also being smart and doing it in a controlled situation so that we take care of our team and we keep them as healthy as we can.”
Limited to what they can do because of the collective bargaining agreement between the National Football League and NFL Players Association, the Browns are looking to make the most of those padded practice sessions.
“I know we do for two in a row,” Jackson said. “I am going to monitor our players, though. Let’s see how we practice, but we have been practicing good, practicing fast and getting a lot of things done, but we will definitely be in pads, and hopefully, the next day, we will be in pads, too.”
Jackson is a firm believer that in order to become a good football team, players must practice how they will play, and that means having to carry full sets of pads during live tackling drills.
And just as he did last year, Jackson will use an auditory alert to let players know when the live tackling sessions begin.
“Anything can happen that way at any time,” Jackson said of the siren that will start the live tackling periods. “I truly believe in that. I like to kind of change it up a little bit. We will tackle. We will get after each other a little bit. I think you have to. We are trying to build a physically-tough, mentally-tough football team.”
By tackling in practice, including in multiple drills instead of a dedicated period, Jackson believes his players will compete harder, which, to him, is the whole reason they go through such sessions when training for the regular season.
“It is getting a feel,” Jackson said. “I want our guys to compete that way. When I think we have had enough, then we have had enough. We still have a lot of work to do. It is just Day 2 into this plan and what we are trying to accomplish. We just have to keep going.”