Sunny skies and 74 degree weather, the Cleveland Browns could not have chosen a more picture perfect morning to take the field for the first time in 2014.
Monday marked a new day in Berea: phase two of the offseason workouts, which allows all coaches back into the fold. Individual instruction and entire units are permitted to take the field together. It does prohibit any offense vs. defense drills.
Moving outdoors is sort of a benchmark symbolizing the offseason is officially coming to an end. Two of the Browns starting linebackers were all smiles as they walked through the tunnel after the workout.
“Putting in the defense, it kind of gives you a feel that the season is getting closer and closer,” said Paul Kruger on Monday.
“It’s more of a, I’m ready, I’m anxious feeling,” said Craig Robertson of the beginning of phase two. “We have high expectations.”
If there’s been a theme so far from the defensive players, it’s been the word confident. The Browns seem sure that the schemes being implemented will bring out the best in their abilities.
“[Buffalo] made plays last year,” said Robertson, who piled up 85 tackles and three sacks in 2013. “The defense works. And [we’re] just being confident. We’re trying to instill that in all the guys here.”
That process of installing poise and swagger around the building, taps into coach Pettine’s master plan of Play like a Brown. But it’s not Pettine alone who is changing the perception in Berea. Even if it just is preliminary workouts, players have taken notice of Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner.
“Not only are they great players but they are the right personalities for the locker room [and] leaders on the team,” said Kruger. “I think if we all kind of join forces and figure this thing out together, we should have a pretty solid group.”
“It’s not just like you’re just listening to somebody who hasn’t played before or a first round draft pick,” Robertson said of the advice he’s been hearing from Dansby and Whitner. “You’re listening to someone who has been there and done that.”
The enthusiasm for the 2014 season is here, but there’s still an offseason to enjoy before the grind. Half the battle is mentally recharging before putting the pads back on. Kruger planned on hitting the golf course this afternoon.
“It’s kind of nice to have that time where you are just working out, enjoy some summer,” said Kruger. “But as we transition into installing and getting onto the field, that’s awesome. It’s an exciting time.”
Story by Kevin Jones, clevelandbrowns.com