CLEVELAND -- “This will be the greatest turnaround in sports history.”
Coach Hue Jackson is confident the Cleveland Browns are a team on the rise after struggling through the first two years of his tenure, and he is not afraid to stand by those words, doing so in a visit with free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant on the third episode of “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns” on Tuesday night.
“I tell you this opportunity that’s sitting before you, to me, is kind of unique in a sense that we’re at a time where I think we’re about to do this [uses hand to signal rising], at a time where you could help us get this organization back to where it rightfully should be,” Jackson said.
“The last two years have been hell. I’ll be the first to tell you that, but it’s going to take guys like you who love to compete, who love to go in these big stadiums. It’s like, ‘We’re here, and we’re coming here to kick your ass,’ and that’s the kind of guys I’m looking for.”
In search “for realness,” Bryant seemed impressed by what Jackson and the Browns’ front-office staff were pitching to him.
“Coach, it’s new to me,” Bryant said. “I’m just being honest. All this is new. Just being honest, the way you’re expressing yourself, the way you’re talking to me, we barely know each other, and I feel comfortable. That’s what these players want.
“I want to just be honest with you. I just want that realness ‘cause I’m going to give you who I am. I feel like I’m an easy person to talk to. I love learning. I want to know things. If there’s something I’m not doing right, I want to know those things ‘cause I feel like we all deserve that. We all deserve that opportunity.”
Referencing Bryant’s quest for “realness,” Jackson brought up the presence of fellow receiver Jarvis Landry, who has been an outspoken, passionate leader on the offense throughout his first training camp with the Browns.
“Absolutely, he’s going to compete,” Jackson said. “As you know, a football team’s got to have enough guys that have that mentality and mindset, and then, it flips. The whole culture flips. The owners, they’ve given these football players anything and everything. We haven’t given them back winning, and that’s the thing that’s got to turn now. In order to deliver, I need guys like you.”
In addition to the visit from Bryant, “Hard Knocks” briefly featured the return of Josh Gordon, who missed the first three weeks of training camp while handling personal matters.
“The bird has landed,” Jackson said with a smile to offensive coordinator Todd Haley prior to their Week 2 preseason game against the Buffalo Bills last Friday night. “The bird is here. Not in here, though. Not in here, but the bird’s here.”
At the end of the third episode, Gordon met with strength and conditioning coach Larry Jackson and was shown lifting weights and running wind sprints in the Browns’ indoor facility, The Casey Coleman Fieldhouse.
“Now, we can start grinding,” Larry Jackson said. “We’re going to start grinding now.”
PENALTIES REMAIN A PROBLEM
From taking points off of the scoreboard to giving automatic first downs that made a first-half field goal attempt a closer and allowed the Buffalo Bills to exhaust the clock late in the game, the Cleveland Browns struggled with penalties throughout their 19-17 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium Friday night.
All told, the Browns committed seven penalties for 70 yards in the loss, which was on the heels of a 13-penalty performance for 141 lost yards in the Week 1 win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“The discipline of this football team has got to get better,” Jackson said. “What I don’t like doing is losing when we self-inflict from penalties, from penalties. And it cost you an opportunity to win a football game, and that’s just the truth.
“We gotta learn how to protect our house. I don’t give a (expletive) who we play, when we play. It don’t matter. You come in here, we’re supposed to whip your ass. Everybody understand that. We’ve got work to do, men. We have to get better.”
COMPETITION LEADS TO HEATED EXCHANGES
By all accounts, Landry has been a good teammate within the locker room, but even loyal players have their limits when it comes to contact in “non-contact practices.”
Landry reached that limit on August 14, as he was driven to the ground by defensive back Terrance Mitchell, and responded by springing to his feet, throwing the ball in the veteran corner’s facemask and tussling to the ground before teammates broke them up. “I’m not playing with him, period,” Landry said to his teammates.
BRAD PAISLEY VISITS CAMP
A Browns fan for many years, country music superstar Brad Paisley visited Browns practice on August 14 and spent time with players, coaches and decision-makers during the visit.
From talking to GM John Dorsey about Baker Mayfield’s arm strength to addressing the team, breaking down the huddle and getting a special invitation to the famous “Quarterback RV,” Paisley had an action-packed visit to Berea.
“I’ve been a fan since third grade,” Paisley said when addressing the team. “I was a Brian Sipe fan. That’s how far back I go. Go win some this year. I’m really rooting for you, and I can’t wait to see what you do, so win this for Cleveland. Go out there and go get ‘em. “Browns on three! One, two, three, Browns!”
MOOSE GETS HIS CLOSE-UP
The Browns have gone to the dogs…somewhat literally.
A couple years ago, the Browns adopted a chocolate Labrador retriever, “Moose,” and while he spends most of his time near the front entrance to the building, he has an all-access pass of sorts, which includes getting to visit with Jackson and Dorsey in their respective offices.
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