WESTFIELD, Ind. — Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens is not a fan of fighting on the football field, but also, he does not want his players to get pushed around by opposing athletes either, not especially in a joint practice during training camp.
After a minor dust-up at Wednesday’s practice against the Indianapolis Colts at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, tempers flared multiple times Thursday, including one exchange that saw punches thrown and nearly all of the players on both teams meeting in the middle of the field before the situation got under control.
“I told you guys yesterday, we are not into backing down from anything,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said after Thursday’s practice.
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. added, “It’s the second, third week of camp, everybody’s tired, they’ve been going through their camp. Competitive nature runs high.
“As long as you can contain it and make sure we’re still able to do all the drills. We came here to practice, we didn’t come here to fight. It’s good to see that we do have fight in us, and they were going pretty hard, it was an active day.”
Heading into Thursday’s practice, Kitchens wanted to see increased tempo and the Browns trying to impose their will on the Colts after a sluggish start to Wednesday’s proceedings.
Fights aside, including one that featured punches being tossed by Browns linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong, Kitchens was pleased with the physicality and the tempo his players brought to the field for the second of the two joint practices with the Colts.
“We just have a way that we are going to treat our practices,” Kitchens said. “That is how we are going to practice.
“That doesn’t ever change. It doesn’t matter who we are going against. It doesn’t matter if we are going against ourselves. I think we learned a lot about ourselves from the standpoint of that’s how you have to approach it. You keep your tempo. Let everybody else adjust to yours, not the other way around.”
According to Beckham Jr., the players responded to Kitchens’ challenge to not back down from anything that came after the whistle from the Colts.
“Message was received,” Beckham Jr. said. “We came here to impose our will the same way we would do in the regular season when it comes up. We’re not backing down from anybody and I love that mentality. That’s all I’ve ever known. Like I said, you don’t want it to happen, but it happens sometimes.”
When the players were focused on the drills instead of the dust-ups, Kitchens and Beckham Jr. felt the Browns “got a lot accomplished” in the joint practices and will look to apply those lessons in Saturday’s preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“The tempo was more like I like it today than it was yesterday,” Kitchens said. “I think we identified a problem yesterday, not that there was anything wrong with the tempo, but we set the tempo. Nobody else does. I think these guys learned that today.”
Beckham Jr. added, “I’m excited for the direction we’re moving in. I can see it. I can feel it from you guys. I can feel it from the fans. I can feel it from this team. They’re excited about this season. First time being in the stadium, I can feel that energy. I told you I’m an empath. I can really feel that, so I know that they’re ready. I know we’re going to be ready when it’s time.”