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Browns notes: Hue Jackson promises physical first practice in pads

BEREA -- Browns coach Hue Jackson can’t wait to celebrate Christmas in July. It arrives today when his team will practice in pads for the first time at training camp.

BEREA — Browns coach Hue Jackson can’t wait to celebrate Christmas in July. It arrives today when his team will practice in pads for the first time at training camp.
Full-contact practices are very limited under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, so Cleveland’s staff plans on making the most of their opportunity this afternoon.
“In order to become a really good football team, we have to play football,” Jackson said Saturday following practice. “Football is blocking and tackling, and the only way you get better at those things is doing them. We need to become a hardened football team, so we’ll set off on that march.”
The former Bengals offensive coordinator expects to utilize hard-hitting drills that replicate game contact, but won’t allow his quarterbacks to be touched or his team to run any reckless exercises.
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis has a reputation for the latter through his use of the Oklahoma drill, which requires a defender to engage with a blocker before attempting to tackle a ball carrier.
“No, I’m not a big Oklahoma drill guy,” Jackson said. “I’ve done it before, but I think there a lot of other ways to do things that way along the football lines of tackling and hitting. We won’t use that, but we’ll definitely bump into each other because I have to find out who we really are.”
Inclement weather could be an issue for the third straight day as there is a 40 percent chance of rain. Whether practice is held on the outdoor grass fields or inside the fieldhouse on artificial turf, the itinerary will not change.
There will be pad-popping contact between offensive and defensive players, many of whom are looking forward to it.
“I’m pretty excited, but my big thing is not to go out there and just get too wild,” rookie tackle Shon Coleman said. “It’s been since late December or January since I put some pads on, so I’m pretty excited to be out there with the guys.”
Cornerback Joe Haden also is eager to get going, saying, “Whatever Hue wants to do, we’re all the way bought in. Last year, we weren’t too good at tackling, so if that’s what we have to do, that’s what we have to do.”
Jackson has a logical reason for putting the Browns in pads on the first day they are permitted to wear them. He wants the team to determine its identity as soon as possible, and believes hitting will expedite the process.
“I said it a while back and I think our players understand,” he said. “We need to be a gritty group. That ground is hard in there, but that’s OK. I even went on the ground today. You’re going to enjoy it.”
Brady bunch
Browns tackle Joe Thomas was not pleased that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped his appeal of a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate. He had threatened to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Brady was penalized for allegedly working with New England’s equipment staff to take air out of footballs prior to the 2015 AFC championship game.
“I was disappointed that he didn’t keep appealing, from a player’s standpoint,” Thomas said. “It kind of gives the commissioner a little bit more power that maybe was not necessarily negotiated or settled.”
The nine-time Pro Bowl selection, who has been very critical of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, added that he encourages the NFL Players Association to sue the league on Brady’s behalf.
Barring a new development, Brady will make his season debut against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Oct. 9.
“I was hoping he would appeal for like one (more) game, so he would be suspended Week 5 and we didn’t have to see him,” Thomas quipped.
Brownie bits
Wide receiver Corey Coleman beat cornerback Charles Gaines on a deep route, but dropped an on-target pass from Josh McCown. Jackson spoke with the first-round pick immediately after the miscue, but excused it because of lights in the fieldhouse.
“Corey just misjudged it a little bit,” he said. “It is a little different inside, but it’s good.” …
Tackle Dan France, linebacker Cam Johnson, and cornerback Jamar Taylor saw time with the starters as fill-ins for older players on the roster. …
Running back Isaiah Crowell appears to have the freshest legs in the backfield, high-stepping on his way to the end zone on a pair of carries. …
Quarterback Robert Griffin III showed off his once-exceptional scrambling skills on a 20-yard gain off left tackle. …
Running back Raheem Mostert, cornerback Justin Gilbert, and wide receiver Darius Jennings took turns returning kickoffs.
Injury update
Haden (left ankle), wide receiver Josh Gordon (quadriceps), guard John Greco (hamstring), linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat (hamstring), tight end Seth DeValve (hamstring), and guard Conor Boffeli (knee, ankle) did not practice for the second straight day. …
Thomas, linebacker Paul Kruger, and cornerback Tramon Williams were held out of most activities as Jackson attempts to limit the wear-and-tear on veteran players.
“There is nothing wrong with those guys,” the coach said. “I’m going to be very honest with you. They could have done anything. My goal, as I said earlier, is to make sure we have a healthy football team and a tough football team.” …
Guard Austin Pasztor, wide receiver Marlon Moore, and fullback Malcolm Johnson were full participants after exiting practice early with cramps on Friday.
Friendly face
Former Browns general manager Phil Savage and CBS color commentator Solomon Wilcots spent the day at camp, broadcasting their SiriusXM NFL Radio program.
Savage — now the executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl and analyst for the Alabama Crimson Tide Sports Network — exchanged warm greetings with reporters who covered the team during his 2005-2008 tenure.
Cleveland drafted potential Hall of Fame tackle Thomas in 2007, when it finished with a 10-6 record under Savage and coach Romeo Crennel. It is the Browns’ only double-digit win team in the last 21 seasons.
“It was nice to be back in this building, catching up with some old friends,” Savage said.
Contact Brian Dulik at Follow him @BrianDulik on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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