Bring on the pads.
Well, not quite yet, unless you want to suffer the consequences like the Baltimore Ravens did, but Hue Jackson is looking forward to the start of training camp in about a month and a half.
During Tuesday's press conference after Day 1 of mandatory minicamp, the talk about pads started when Jackson was asked about who the candidates to back up TE Gary Barnidge might be. Jackson said that he didn't want to praise anyone in particular because OTAs and minicamps are meant for learning the fundamentals -- how to practice, how to practice, and how to be a pro football player. "There are a lot of guys that look good in shorts," said Jackson, adding that he doesn't want a situation where his praise is misconstrued and people set certain expectations for that guy come training camp.
"The real guys are going to start to separate themselves when we come back here for training camp because that’s when football really starts to be played when you put these pads on and start going after each other," said Jackson.
Jackson then spoke a little more in-depth about the back-and-forth discussions he had with the team's sports scientists with respect to the number of padded practices he's scheduled for training camp (note: that schedule has not been made public yet). In short, Jackson's philosophy is that to be a good football team, you need to truly simulate the action in training camp with pads and (smart) contact. His norm will be set at having padded practices, and then if he gets a natural feel for when the team might need a day off from pads, he'll make that adjustment on the fly.
Here are the full quotes from the press conference related to padded practices:
On if he consulted with the team’s sports scientists on full padded practices scheduled for training camp:
“Honestly, they got kind of mad at me to be very honest with you. We had a very candid conversation where they said, ‘Hue, you might want to double-check your padded days schedule.’ I told them, ‘No.’ I know how to take care of a football team. I get a feel for when the guys, we’re pushing them too far and when we need to reel it in. We’re only going to build our football team through playing football. Good football teams play football, real football. They line up and they go after each other, and they come out and do it again the next day. Somewhere in there, Coach Jackson has got to be smart enough to say, ‘OK that might be enough. We need to pull off.’ That’s part of being the head coach, as well. It’s part of having a sports science team. I’m sure they’ll give me all the statistical data that you can to forewarn me, but I’m going to trust my football instincts on that one and see if we can get our team to be the best that they can be.”
On if there will be tackling and live work at training camp practices:
“I will tell you guys this. There will be a siren at practice. OK? The siren is not for the health ward to come. It’s not for that. It’s just for we’re going to put the ball down and it’s kind of anything goes. We go after it. You’ve got to teach your team how to play football. That being said, it’s also about being smart. You’ve got to be smart because we don’t want to get any guys injured. We’re not trying to do that, but I don’t know any other way to get better at playing football other than playing football the way you truly play football. I think I’ve coached that with our players. I think they understand it. I think they’re accepting of it because, at the same time, they understand it’s what it’s going to take to get us to where we need to be.”
On if it’s hard to keep up the energy at practice and if it is difficult to keeping doing that throughout the season:
“No, it’s what I demand. It’s just what we do. We’re not going to change because all of a sudden the months change. I’m not going to change and be a different coach when November comes. I’m hopefully better, but I’m not going to change. Our standard is our standard. We want guys that can meet the standard each and every day. I’m not going backwards. Our player’s aren’t going to go backwards. We’re going to do things the right way all the time. I don’t believe that you start changing. I think you start getting better. I think people accept what the expectation is and they meet the expectation.”
Maybe we'll actually see our defense tackle better this year!
What do you think of Jackson's attitude, Browns fans? Is it the way practice should be played, or do you think he's going to risk more injuries without enough of a payoff?