BEREA — Coach Hue Jackson says he hasn’t gone soft.
He’s just protecting against soft-tissue injuries, such as hamstring, calf and groin tears.
One of the most interesting moments of the premiere of “Hard Knocks” was an exchange in a coaches meeting between offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Jackson. Haley questioned the practice of resting certain players, citing the need to get mentally tougher as a team and practice as much as possible. Jackson said he can’t afford to be without his best players and shut down the conversation.
Jackson continued to defend the philosophy Sunday.
“So for the last two years we have not had any soft-tissue injuries,” he said. “Our medical staff and myself, we put a plan together. We’ve done this now for two years and we’ve had really good success.
“And I don’t think Todd meant anything by it. I just think from his feeling he’s been different places and everybody has a different way of doing things. It’s just how we do it here and it works for us. The most important part I think is that we keep our players healthy.”
Jackson said he and Haley, whom Jackson hired in the offseason to replace him as the play caller, have a strong working relationship.
“There was no animosity or anything like that. It wasn’t a back-and-forth between Todd and myself,” Jackson said. “Todd gets it. Trust me. That has never come up again. I want our guys to ask questions about those things, but once I explain them then we move forward. That’s the way it works.”
Jackson wasn’t a believer in sports science when he arrived in 2016. Under former head of football operations Sashi Brown the Browns invested heavily in sports science and became reliant on analytics.
The technology they use tracks player movement in practice and lets the team know when someone is at a danger level for a muscle tear based on activity. If that occurs for a player with an injury history — running back Duke Johnson and defensive end Myles Garrett are examples — he is given a rest day.
“That’s the one piece of analytic information that I really like,” Jackson said, taking a not-so-subtle dig at Brown. “Because I think the data really shows and I had to learn that.”
Jackson said he finds other ways to instill mental toughness in the team.
“It is the environment that you create in practice,” he said. “I think you see we go hard. We bump into each other. We run into each other. I have never been one where we patty cake at practice. We go after it.
“You have to practice physical and tough, but you also have to take care of them because you can’t have it both ways. I think our players understand that I am going to push them, but at the same time, if they are close and if something says there is an issue, we are going to take care of them that way, as well.”
Receiver Jarvis Landry got a lot of publicity after “Hard Knocks” for his profanity-laced speech in the receivers room in which he told them to practice unless they were seriously injured.
“And I don’t know why it’s been going on here, but if you’re not hurt, like if your hamstring ain’t falling off the f—– bone, your leg ain’t broke, you should be f—— practicing,” he said while standing in the middle of the room.
Jackson took the comments in stride.
“With Jarvis, I think he is coming at it from a different angle with his room and his unit,” he said. “I understand that because in order to play receiver, those guys have to run all day. I do not think he meant it for the football team.
“At the same time I have to watch him, too, because we have to keep him up and running, and I think that is important because he is going to be very vital to what we do on offense.”