WESTFIELD, Ind. — Football is a physical sport played by athletes that have unique combinations of strength and speed, and Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens wants to make sure his team is ready for the rigors that awaits the players during the 2019 regular season.
Kitchens knows only one way to coach, and that is by having a physical training camp schedule full of padded practices.
“I think these guys have embraced [it],” Kitchens said. “They will not tell you that it is easy, but they have embraced the work, they have embraced the physical nature. Those guys have been through games. They have been through a season, most of them have, and they know what it takes. I do not want them worried about the pads.
“I want them knowing that the football game is played with pads on. I told them at the beginning that the light that they see is a train. It is not at the end of the tunnel. That is what I want them focused on is today. That is it. I think they have done an excellent job embracing the challenge of that.”
Since the Browns have been able to put on the full pads on the third day of training camp, there has been only one practice without them. The Browns have carried their pads through 10 practices and one scrimmage, all of which ran longer than the scheduled end time in the quest to get things done correctly.
“I do not think there is any other way,” Kitchens said. “To me, it is a no-brainer. The game is played in pads, so it is my job to make sure those guys are ready to play the game. It is my job to understand when we need to take the pads off and get them ready to play the game.
“I think they were ready to play last week. They will be ready to play this week. I will have them ready to practice against these guys on Wednesday. The game is played in pads. We are going to be physically and mentally tough.”
Although aware of the challenges faced by the players during the physically demanding practices, Kitchens believes he has “definitely” found a collection of talents who have been “willing to the pay the price.”
“They have embraced the challenge of keeping the tempo up on a regular basis,” Kitchens said. “At the end of the day, when you get into the season, you are allowed one day a week with pads on. This is the time that you have to build some of that toughness.
“I think that they have embraced that from the standpoint of they know… This is a tough game played by tough people. Sometimes, you have to look inside yourself and make sure that you are tough. Sometimes, you have to demonstrate that to realize that you are. I think that they have embraced all that.”