CLEVELAND -- From a high ankle sprain that delayed the debut of rookie defensive end Myles Garrett and a fight in the locker room that led to Calvin Pryor’s release to being on the wrong side of history against their chief rival in the AFC North Division, the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is plenty going against the Cleveland Browns heading into Sunday’s season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium.
But Browns coach Hue Jackson remains determined to lead the team past the challenges and to victories in the regular season.
“Have you guys ever seen me run from anything? I am not about to now,” Jackson said after Thursday’s practice. “If anything, our team is a little bit tighter, a little bit stronger because of the things that have happened. We grow from this.
“It is happening now and glad it is happening early in the year so we can move on from it and grow from it and become stronger as a football team. We never want to see things happen, but we all know they do during a long season, so here we go. This is just the start of it. Let’s put it behind us and keep marching.”
After Garrett was injured in Wednesday’s practice, the Browns sent the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft for an MRI on his right ankle. With the results of the additional tests, the Browns feel Garrett is “week to week” because of the injury.
Despite Garrett’s injury, Jackson does not get the sense of “Here we go, again,” or “Same Old Browns” inside the locker room.
“Energy is not going to change,” Jackson said. “No, we don’t talk about that ‘here we go again’ feeling. We don’t have that in this building. We are moving on. We get to lay claim on what our season is going to be starting this week.”
The Browns owned the Cleveland-Pittsburgh rivalry in the early days, but since returning to the National Football League in 1999, they have known almost nothing but misery when it comes to competing against the Steelers.
Including a 36-33 loss at Pittsburgh in the AFC Wildcard Playoffs on January 5, 2003, the Browns are 6-31 against the Steelers since returning to the NFL, and have won just four times out of a possible 28 games over the last 14 years.
Additionally, the Browns are 0-12 in regular-season openers since 2004, when they defeated the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium, and those are trends the team is anxious to change.
“I think we all know,” Jackson said with a laugh. “I think we get that. I think that is understood what it has been here. We want to change that. We get a chance to change that on Sunday. That is part of the plan. We are not going into this game talking about the past.
“It is just that. It is the past. We have to talk about what we are trying to do now, which is win. I’m not going to back off of that. Our players are not. We are working our tails off to do that. Now, we have to go play the game on Sunday and see if we can go make that happen.”
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