Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is a proponent of holding joint practices with another team during training camp.
Stefanski likes the opportunity to evaluate the players in a controlled environment where players are less likely to be injured than in a preseason game, and after a few weeks of going up against their teammates, it gives the players an opportunity to hit someone else and see how they measure up to their peers.
The downside is that the practices also represent a chance for players to take their frustrations out on each other, as happened for the Browns against the Giants and again this year against the Eagles when left guard Joel Bitonio took exception to a Philadelphia defense that was getting to close to quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Fortunately, the situation did not escalate any further with the Eagles, who did wind up in a brawl on Tuesday during their joint practice with the Indianapolis Colts after Eagles center Jason Kelce administered an admitted cheap shot on Indianapolis linebacker Zaire Franklin.
Those types of escalations have not occurred with the Browns, however, which may be thanks in part to Stefanski’s rule about fighting, as Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer highlights:
I heard a consequence one team has for fighting at joint practice that I love. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski’s rule is that if a starter gets into a fight at a joint practice, then he has to play in the preseason game to follow. Meanwhile, if a backup battling for a roster spot gets into a fight, he can’t play in the preseason game (thus missing an opportunity to make his case to make the team).
Breer presented cornerback Troy Hill as a case study, as Hill got into a fight in 2021 with New York wide receiver Sterling Shepard during a joint practice and found himself playing in that week’s preseason game.
Stefanski’s rule to discourage the type of extracurricular activities that can derail a joint practice appears to have paid off, as outside of Hill the Browns have stayed clean and, in the process, been able to maximize the benefits of practicing against another team.