BEREA, Ohio -- Training camps across the National Football League are designed for players to learn systems and condition their bodies for the rigors of a 16-game regular-season schedule over a 17-week stretch and potential runs for the postseason.
But training camps are also places for coaches to learn about their players, and Browns coach Hue Jackson learned plenty about his team during the three weeks of work ahead of Monday’s second preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“The team is really competitive on both sides of the ball,” Jackson said. “It is a group that will get after you. We are physically better than where we were a year ago. We are more mentally tougher. We are stronger.”
PHOTOS: Final Day of Cleveland Browns Training Camp
As training camp wound down to a close Thursday, the physicality was ramped up by the coaching staff.
In the midst of an 11-day break in-between preseason games, the Browns broke out the pads and had three live hitting periods in Sunday’s practice, and followed it up with more work in full pads Monday and again, Wednesday.
Jackson said earlier in camp that he felt this year’s team was able to be pushed more than the 2016 squad because of their improved roster, and also, the way the Browns came together under the guidance of a coaching staff that was overhauled in the offseason.
And by pushing the team to its limits with more emphasis on physicality, Jackson was pleased with the Browns’ preseason work.
“When you have a new staff and you have some different players offensively, defensively and special teams, it is just how fast can they come together,” Jackson said. “How fast can those guys find chemistry with each other, whether it be in the locker room, as a team, all of those different things? I think that happened pretty quickly, and I give a lot of that credit to our staff.
“But at the same time, this is just the start of it. There are going to be some huge games coming up in our future, and we just have to keep getting this team better.”
Although training camp is over, the Browns have three more games remaining in the preseason, starting with Monday night’s game against the Giants. Those final three games will be played over an 11-day stretch, but for the Browns, the mission remains the same.
“We want to win, too,” Jackson said. “I just think that is the way I am built.
“It is still there and it is not because of last year. It is just that is the way it is. There is a score being kept and if there is, you want to win. At the same time, we are also going to evaluate our team because there is going to be some hard decisions that we have to make, and we have to do that, as well, but we are going out there to play to win. There is no question about that.”