BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has not shied away from pushing his players through training camp ahead of the 2017 season, and he has utilized full-contact portions of practice to ready the team for the games to be played.
Jackson continued to test his players, both mentally and physically, during Monday’s practice with multiple full-contact drills, and will look to do so as training camp rolls on this week.
“The last two days, I have really pushed this team pretty far, and as I keep telling them, I will keep pushing them because I think there is a lot in this group,” Jackson said. “You just have to keep pulling it out. There are hard days, grinding days, but that is what training camp is.
“We are still in training-camp mode, but they are giving me everything they have, and that is all you can ask for. As a football team, I am happy where we are. We still have some things to keep cleaning up, keep getting better at, but that is part of it. That is training camp and that is the way it goes, but we have had a really good two days the last two days of building our football team, and that is what you look for.”
Admittedly, Jackson has been able to push this year’s squad farther than the 2016 Browns because they are a “better football team” with different goals.
“I expect more from this team,” Jackson said. “I want more from this team. That is the expectation. I really believe we are going to be a better football team. We will put a better product out on the field than what we did a year ago because I think these guys understand where we are.”
In those full-contact practice drills, the defense has seemingly been ahead of the offense, but Jackson is not concerned by those results.
“We are practicing against each other,” Jackson said. “We have been practicing these same things since OTAs, so no, I am not concerned.
“Anytime you are mixing and matching like we are on offense, guys over there working -- we haven’t really played as a unit yet -- but at the same time, there are a lot of good things the offense has done. There are a lot of good things the defense has done. This is not offense against defense. This is the building of a football team, and that is what we are trying to do.”
And as training camp and the preseason continue, Jackson believes he can continue to push his players to reach beyond their normal limits and help rebuild a Browns team that has not been to the postseason since 2002 or had a winning season since 2007.
“They haven’t blinked,” Jackson said. “They have asked for more, and that is what I like about this team. They haven’t backed down from anything. From yesterday to today to what I am asking of them, I think this is how you build a football team, and that is what we are trying to do.
“We are trying to become a really good football team that is mentally and physically tough. In order to do that, you have to bump into each other quite a bit and that is what we have done.”
© 2017 WKYC-TV