BEREA, Ohio -- For the Cleveland Browns, preparations for the 2017 season in the National Football League officially got underway in earnest with the first day of training camp at the team’s Berea headquarters Thursday.
Although the pads do not go on for a few more days, per the rules set forth by the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association, there was plenty of work put into preparing for the season.
Here is a look back at five takeaways from Thursday’s practice.
TEAM SHOWS PROGRESS
Browns coach Hue Jackson was pleasantly surprised by the way the offense controlled the tempo, and more importantly, kept the ball away from the defense for the majority of the drills, whether they be skeleton passing, inside-run or full 11-on-11 sessions.
In fact, Jackson saw so much progress from this time a year ago that he extended a “thanks to our football team.”
“They came out and competed,” Jackson said. “I can tell that we are a step better than we were a year ago by far. There was less assignment errors in the first day. There was less balls on the ground, less turnovers.
“I don’t even know if the defense had the ball (laughter). They were mad at me for that because they want to get their hands on the ball, but the offense has to fight like heck to make sure we don’t turn it over. Overall, it was a good first day. It is good to have all of our players out there.”
INJURIES ARE NOTHING SERIOUS
Throughout the course of practice, the Browns had wide receivers Kenny Britt and James Wright, as well as fullback Dan Vitale remove themselves from the on-field work.
Britt exited practice after coming up with one of the “Wow” plays. After getting behind defensive back Joe Haden, Britt hauled in a touchdown pass from quarterback Cody Kessler, but following a brief celebration, he walked into the fieldhouse with a trainer in tow.
Not more than 20 minutes later, Vitale and Wright went down and were helped to the fieldhouse.
“All of them, just cramps, cramps and guys going down,” Jackson said. “Nothing major. I know that for sure. All of those things were definitely IV things.”
The Browns are plenty young at multiple positions, and that includes quarterback, where Brock Osweiler is the longest tenured of the signal-callers, but despite being in the NFL for five years, he has just 21 starts to his name.
Additionally, the Browns have a pair of second-year quarterbacks in Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan, along with rookie DeShone Kizer in the mix.
Despite the lack of experience, Jackson saw “some good work” from his quarterbacks.
“I thought it was a good first day,” Jackson said. “Anytime you don’t turn the ball over on the first day of practice or have fumbled snaps on the ground, that is something you look for and you feel good about. All in all, it was a good first day.”
OFFENSIVE LINE GETS HEALTHY
The Browns rebuilt their offensive line with the signings of guard Kevin Zeitler and versatile blocker JC Tretter in the offseason, but when they took the field, there were additional boosts to Cleveland’s front line.
Out with serious foot injuries since the middle of last season, the Browns got two interior blockers, Joel Bitonio and John Greco, back in the lineup.
“We will keep monitoring those guys as we go,” Jackson said. “The goal is to finish this training camp healthy and ready to go, but we have to practice football and we have to do football. Those guys will do that as we continue to move forward.”
FAN SUPPORT APPRECIATED
Browns fans got their first experience at the new-look facility in Berea on Thursday.
The franchise installed grandstands at multiple places around the practice fields, and fans packed the bleachers with never-before-seen lines of sight in Berea in order to support their favorite players on Day 1 of training camp.
And that support did not go unnoticed.
“I want to give a thumbs up to our fans in the Dawg Pound for being here, and then, our organization for the setup here,” Jackson said. “It is really spectacular. It gives our fans a little different access, a chance really to sit down.
“Some great stands over there and the stands that we put on this side of the field. It is really fan friendly, and I think more people will come out. I think our players really enjoy that.”
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