Browns embrace practice competitions

BEREA, Ohio -- Six times during the 2013 regular season, the Cleveland Browns let several leads dissipate in the second half of games, and when coach Mike Pettine took over the team back in January, he came up with a way to help the players finish at the end of games.

During his first training camp with the Browns, Pettine created an end-of-practice competition period where the winning side of the football gets to wear special orange jerseys during the next practice.

"I think the guys look forward to it," Pettine said. "Having the jerseys means something to them, and there's a little bit of back and forth between the units. It's been a positive. I think it helps."

And according to Pettine, the players have embraced the opportunity to play for something meaningful at the end of each practice, including Thursday, when offensive and defensive linemen kicked extra points for the right to wear orange jerseys on Monday.

The offensive linemen made both of their attempts, while the defensive linemen went just one for three in their bid to retain the orange jerseys.

"The linemen do a lot of the chirping back and forth over the orange shirt stuff, so I wanted to find a way for them to settle it, Pettine said. "There were some very unique styles of kicking. I think Des (Desmond Bryant) set a record for hang-time on an extra point.

"We just said from the O-line room and the D-line room. They just nominated three guys on their own and sent them up World Cup style. You've got to mix it in. We obviously don't do something like that every day. It'll maybe be a once-a-week thing where it's kind of an 'off-the-beaten-path' competition."

Seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas was one of the offensive linemen to attempt a kick, and the former high-school kicker celebrated with a giant fist pump of emotion once his try sailed over the crossbar and through the uprights.

"I think one of the best things Coach Pettine has done is bring competition in every, single day to training camp, whether it be red zone, goal line, first down, whatever we're doing, linemen kicking," Thomas said.

"I think it kind of builds a competitive desire that burns inside of the team when we do that kind of stuff. It's always fun to do things that are a little goofy when you make linemen kick extra points and stuff. It kind of helps the players get through the mental drain of training camp and the grind of coming out every day in pads and sweating it out and banging against the same guys with no end in sight."


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