The Browns' defense earned the right to keep the orange jerseys by winning a goal line drill Thursday.
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns' offense was moving the ball with a fair amount of success during Thursday's training camp practice, and controlled the early goal line drills, as four different running backs found their way into the end zone.
But when coach Mike Pettine put the orange jerseys on the line in a drill where it was third-and-goal from the two-yard line with the offense down by five points and only one timeout remaining with 20 seconds to play, the defense kept them out of the end zone and retained the right to wear the orange uniforms.
"We put the ball at the two-yard line and just said, 'Whoever comes out on top gets the jerseys,' and defensively, they overcame a penalty," Pettine said. "It was right at the end of the game, so we gave the offense one more down, and they couldn't get it in, so that's a lesson that our guys need to learn on both sides.
"How many games are decided by eight points or less? How many games truly come down to the end of the fourth quarter? And that's something that we're going to try to simulate that as best as you can in practice because when you do that, we've talked to the players about it, they get that rush of adrenaline. Your bodies change when you get that feeling. It's not just, 'I'm going through plays.' This is a situation where something's on the line, and it's as simple as a practice jersey, but it's good work for us, and you'll see the defense in the orange jerseys again."
Prior to the final drill, which bought all of the defenders to their feet in celebration, Pettine felt "the offense had the upper hand most of the day."
"The short-yardage period, for sure, was a mixed bag," Pettine said. "The four-minute situation was probably leaned a little bit toward the O, and early in the goal line, it was the offense, but it happens all the time where you play well throughout and you've got to be able to make plays at the end.
"The fact of what we did against the run a couple plays, I saw some bodies flying around, flying over the top, but goal line is a mentality. The defense has to take that mentality of 'They're not in there till they're in there.' The offense has to be of the mindset of, 'Hey, we're this close. This isn't a four-point swing. We've got to get a touchdown.'"
Thursday's practice included the first live tackling drill of training camp, and that type of hitting is what the Browns will utilize in Saturday's Family Day scrimmage at The University of Akron's InfoCision Stadium.
"We're not going to do kickoff and kickoff return," Pettine said. "We'll probably do more 'Move the ball. Open field.' The early series will start probably at the minus-20 or minus-30. We'll probably go a rack of plays and end every series with a kicking play, unless there's a turnover. We're either going to punt or kick a field goal, kick an extra point.
"Once we go with certain groups there, we'll start to mix it up, maybe the first offense vs. the second D and vice versa after they go against each other for a rack or two. We'll take a break, simulate a halftime, come out and do some red-zone work, probably doing the units the same way, and every series ending in some sort of kicking play."
Although Pettine and the Browns had their first live-tackling drills of training camp on Thursday, it will not be something they employ on a regular basis, not with the preseason games right around the corner.
"We'll do very little," Pettine said. "It'll be very select. We might do one more later in camp, one more day similar to this, but not to this scale, so our live tackling right now will primarily be the scrimmage and the preseason games."
Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin showed an ability to break open a game with solid punt returns, and despite coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament on a special-teams return last October, he was fielding kicks again during training camp.
"He's had no issue," Pettine said. "He just had the scheduled day off, but he's had no residual effects with the knee up to this point."