CLEVELAND — NFL coaches have long said they are most concerned about their players during their time away from the structure and regimented schedules between the end of mandatory minicamp and the start of training camp six weeks later.
First-year Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens is no different, as he wants everyone to enjoy their breaks, avoid troubles and return at the end of July ready to get to work in training camp.
“We don’t have very many rules here,” Kitchens said. “It is just to do the right thing, and we will be fine. They have to make the decisions, so hopefully, they make good decisions.
“The short answer is, ‘Yes, I get nervous,’ but I get nervous when my daughters walk to school. Yeah, I am always nervous. When they are not with me, I am nervous, just like my daughters. I would say that I trust them, too, though. I trust them. I trust that they are going to do the right thing and I am going to trust them until they tell me that I can’t trust them, and they tell me that by showing me that.”
Although there is no official workouts permitted over the next six weeks, players can gather on their own and work through the schemes, something the Browns plan on doing again this year, just as they did in the lead up to the 2018 season.
“These next six weeks for these guys is a critical time,” Kitchens said.
“They need to be in shape when they come back, and they will be. I have trust that they will do that. If we are going to get where we want to go, they have to pay the price to do it, and that is some of it during this six weeks.”
While his players dispersed to their hometowns across the country shortly after the conclusion of Thursday’s practice, Kitchens is not planning to be away from the facility for too long, not with work to do to further prepare for his first season as an NFL head coach.
In fact, wherever Kitchens is, he plans to be in that moment with little distraction.
“I know I am not going to leave Cleveland too much in the summer because it is beautiful,” Kitchens said. “I am not really sure yet. I know I will go to a few horse shows with my daughters. I am looking forward to that. This has not been the normal spring for them. I have some time to make up with them and my wife.
“One thing I pride myself on is if I am here, then I am going to work, alright? If I am not here, I am with my family. I am present wherever I am at, whether it be a horse show, sitting at home playing a game or just talking to my family.
“You see a lot of people in this business, even though they are not at the office, their mind is not where it is supposed to be, so if they are with their wife, their mind should be on their wife. If they are with their kids, their mind should be with their kids. I try to pride myself on making sure wherever I am at that I am present.”