CLEVELAND -- Throughout the course of the offseason program and over the first week of training camp, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson placed an emphasis on increasing the level of competition in practice to better ready the team for the regular season.
And competition is exactly what Jackson expects from the Browns when they take the field at FirstEnergy Stadium for the annual Orange and Brown Scrimmage tonight.
“It is something that I want to see,” Jackson said. “I want to see our team compete. There are certain guys that I want to see perform and do certain things. We will try to make that happen within the scrimmage. It may not. It may never go the way that you want it to.
“We will go for a number of plays and really get a good feel for our football team. Then, we will come back the next day and do what we call a ‘mock game,’ which is somewhat similar, but there is no tackling and there is no taking to the ground. It will be a good two days for our football team to get ready for next Thursday when we play.”
With the Browns one week away from their preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints at FirstEnergy Stadium, tonight’s scrimmage will be as close to a game-like situation that the team can get.
“We will do everything that a game calls for because I think it is important that our players go through that process before we play next Thursday,” Jackson said. “We will have halftime. We will have a coin toss. We will play it like a game, situational football and see what we can accomplish.”
There will be live tackling during the course of the scrimmage, but instead of ones against ones, twos against twos and so on, the Browns will have the No. 1 offense compete against the backup defense, and the No. 2 offense line up against the starting defense.
“What it really is about is going out and having a good scrimmage and competing,” Jackson said. “What I am going to learn, a lot of it, some of it, I know I am going to learn a little bit more.
“I feel like I have some information that I can put it together. I want our guys walking out there feeling good about their opportunities, whether it is offensively, defensively or special teams. That is what is important for our team.”
By going through the scrimmage and continuing to increase the level of competition in training-camp practices, Jackson is hopeful that younger players will begin to emerge as leaders for the Browns, who have just four veterans over the age of 30 on their roster.
“We have a lot of young guys here that are playing and contributing to our team,” Jackson said. “We are a very young team. You don’t have to be a veteran to be a leader. You have to be a football player, be accountable and understand what our vision is and what we are trying to accomplish to be a leader. Then, go out and lead.”