BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson has an old-school mindset when it comes to training-camp practices.
Jackson believes the only way to learn how to hit is by tackling in training camp, while balancing the need to keep everyone healthy and able to continue preparations for the 2018 regular season.
“It is something that I totally believe in,” Jackson said of the contact. “You have to get that in practice. You have to build that foundation through training camp.
“Hopefully, it can sustain you during the season. We did some more situational stuff (Thursday). For the most part, our players competed well. There are still some things that we have to do better. We will watch the tape and go from there.”
During the fully-padded practices through the first six days of training camp, Jackson has held live-tackling periods, and on Thursday, the Browns’ defense shined and even registered an interception of starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
However, the Browns’ offense will have a chance to respond in tonight’s Orange and Brown Scrimmage at the team’s Berea headquarters.
“Dominated by the defense,” Jackson said. “Dominated by the defense. They whopped them. That is just what it is. If I am the offense, I am mad. I am going to go back and the next time that we have that period, I am going to come back and show that we are there.”
In addition to conditioning the players to expect contact, tackling in practices will help the defenders adjust to the new rules instituted by the competition committee.
The National Football League announced Wednesday that players have been instructed to keep their heads up while making tackles and those who lower their heads during tackle attempts will be penalized, fined and subject to ejection from competition.
“I am going to get a better grasp as we go,” Jackson said. “I brought it up to the team before we ever started putting on the pads because I thought that I needed to make that an emphasis. It is going to be different.
“Obviously, there is a tape that came before the officials got here and that is what I showed the team, but at the same time, I want the guys to really understand it. We really need to dig into it when we have this meeting so that we have a clear understanding of exactly what they are looking for.”
The NFL has made it a point to improve player safety in recent years, and took even more steps this offseason after Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a serious back injury in a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals last December that required spinal stabilization surgery and a near three-month hospital/rehabilitation facility stay to recover.
“There are some things that are still kind of gray for the players about leading with the head,” Jackson said.
“‘If I am a ball carrier and someone is coming at me, how do I protect myself? If I am on the sideline and I turn back into a player, how do I protect myself?’ I think that all of those are real questions that have to be answered, and I think that we will get some answers.”
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