The Cleveland Browns hit the road this week for a pair of practices with the Indianapolis Colts in Westfield, Ind.
The joint practices were a lead-in to the two teams meeting on Saturday for a 4 p.m. preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
It was a nice change of pace for the Browns, who have spent the first few weeks of training camp mostly hitting each other. And while it was just two practices, head coach Freddie Kitchens was pleased with his team, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“We just have a way that we are going to treat our practices. 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.
”I think these guys are resilient from the standpoint of we can identify a problem and I think these guys work to fix it. We identified that problem last night, and they came out and fixed it.”
Here are a few highlights from the past two days.
Don’t Back Down
Training camp has been a new experience for many of the players as Kitchens has had the team in full pads as often as possible and the practices have run longer more often than not.
That has helped instill a mentality of the team never backing down from an opponent, and that attitude was on full display against the Colts.
This #Browns #Colts practice has gotten out of control with fights. Time to call it. Ray Ray Armstrong and a Colts player trades punches 2 fights ago.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 15, 2019
#Browns offense and #Colts defense with skirmish downfield after Jaelen Strong catch. Joel Bitonio quickly entered fray.— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) August 15, 2019
In addition to those two skirmishes, dustups occurred between tight end Demetrius Harris and Colts defensive end Ben Banogu, safety Sheldrick Redwine and Indianapolis wide receiver Deon Cain, and safety J.T. Hassell and Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal.
Kitchens’ message got through loud and clear, as ide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said after Thursday’s practice, according to BrownsZone.com:
“Message was received. 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.”
Several players missed all or part of the practices with injuries, including wide receiver Antonio Callaway (high ankle sprain), defensive end Chad Thomas (sprained neck), running back Dontrell Hilliard (hamstring), safety Juston Burris (hamstring), defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence (knee) and tight end David Njoku (knee).
The biggest absence, however, was wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has not participated in a team drill during a padded practice since August 6 as he is dealing with a sore hip.
Against the Colts, Beckham went through a few individual drills but was a non-participant in all of the one-on-one, seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 practice periods.
Can confirm it's a hip injury (but not a hip pointer) that's been keeping #Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. out of team drills— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) August 15, 2019
Beckham wishes he could be on the field more, but with it being the preseason the Browns are taking a cautious approach to avoid the injury possibly becoming something serious, he explained to clevelandbrowns.com:
“There is no point in trying to push it right now. I’m too competitive to be out here and not go 110 (percent). I don’t know any other way. But I also don’t like being here and not being able to go, so it’s tough. But you just trust their plan. That’s really all I can do.”
Indianapolis wide receiver Daurice Fountain suffered what the team is calling a “significant ankle injury” that will require surgery.
Maybe keeping Beckham on the sidelines until the regular season is not such a bad idea.
Right guard continues to be an issue
With the season opener looming on September 8, the Browns are still searching for an answer at right guard.
Against the Colts, Eric Kush, Drew Forbes and Kendall Lamm all took turns at the position. Notably Austin Corbett, the college left tackle drafted to be a guard - unless he really is a center, it is a fluid situation, apparently - did not step in at right guard.
It may be worth keeping an eye on Forbes during Saturday’s game as the coaching staff is rewarding him for working hard, Kitchens told clevelandbrowns.com:
“He has gotten better. He kept his head down when everything around him seemed to be falling apart. He kept his head down and just kept working. I think he has seen some of the benefits of doing it like that. That is just one example. He is doing well or he is doing better. Some of these guys just have to play. Some of these guys come from small schools, and they just have to play. He flashed in the game the other night so that earned him some more reps. He flashed yesterday so that earned him some more reps. It is kind of like we are on a reward system around here, I guess, like your little gas card thing (laughter).”
Things are different in Indiana
Have no idea what this is about, but it is too good not to share:
The media room chicken here in Westfield. pic.twitter.com/huq7Ff9aNN— Dan Labbe (@dan_labbe) August 15, 2019
With Beckham and Callaway missing all or most of the drills, wide receiver Jaelen Strong continues to use the opportunity to make a case for a roster spot.
.@bakermayfield ➡️ @JaelenStrong #BrownsCamp pic.twitter.com/LRhHyvMg1k— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 16, 2019
The best thing that Strong can do is be consistent, Kitchens told clevelandbrowns.com:
“Jaelen definitely has, and he just needs to keep working. In a sense, we still have a long way to go, but what they have to understand is the clock is ticking so the sense of urgency has to be picked up. He is a physical guy when he wants to be. We just need it every day. I just want to know what is going to be on the field. I want to know every day what I am going to get.”
The Browns have the day off on Friday and will take on the Colts in the second preseason game for both teams at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The 2-Minute (5-Minute) Drill: @NathanZegura breaks down the conclusion of joint practices with the @colts pic.twitter.com/fw472VBfJQ— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 16, 2019