After a mandatory four straight days off under the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the Players’ Association, the Cleveland Browns returned to work Monday and began preparations for their upcoming AFC North Division game against the front-running Cincinnati Bengals.
When the players and assistants reported for work Monday morning, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski saw a team that was energized and ready for the final seven games of the regular season.
“We had a good, productive bye week,” Chudzinski said. “Players and coaches had a chance to get a break and reenergize, had a chance to study ourselves internally and work to improve in those areas, whether it was personnel scheme, from a technique standpoint, all of those things, we had a chance to work on this week.
“It’s good to get back to work. I think after about the third trip to the grocery store this weekend, I was ready to get back, myself.”
“We talked about coming back today, on Monday, being stronger and being hungrier and reenergized,” Chudzinski said. “I think that the guys used this as an opportunity to do that. It’s not a vacation. It’s more an opportunity to get ourselves better, and I think they really had the right mindset all week long.
“(We’re) just approaching it that we’ve hit the halfway point of the season, basically with this break being like a halftime, and now, we have to play well in the second half. It starts, again, our same approach with this game and playing them one at a time.”
The Browns enter this week at 4-5 and in second place in the AFC North Division. Despite being tied with the Baltimore Ravens after defeating them, 24-18, two weeks ago, the Browns hold second place because they own the best record of AFC North teams against divisional opponents.
The Browns find themselves 1.5 games behind the Bengals (6-4) and in the hunt for the division championship after Cincinnati fell to the Ravens in overtime Sunday. The Bengals are on a two-game losing streak overall, and lost to the Browns, 17-6, in Week Four.
“We talk about our goals, but more specifically and most of the time, we talk about what we need to do right here and now, because that’s the thing you can control,” Chudzinski said. “All of the other things, people talk about all of the different scenarios and you start to get caught up in those things and you miss out on the present, so we’re really focusing on the present.”
Campbell held a 116.6 quarterback rating, earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and was said to be “doing fine,” according to Chudzinski.
“He’s good to go,” Chudzinski said. “He’s full speed in practice.”
GROVES TO IR
In addition to Campbell, Chudzinski provided an injury update on linebacker
“He’s going to have surgery on it either later this week or next week,” Chudzinski said. “Quentin’s a valuable part of our team and a valuable part of the leadership on our team. Obviously, we’re disappointed, but it’s the best thing right now to get that fixed and corrected.
“We’ll have to have other guys step up, whether it’s on special teams or whether it’s on defense, and the outside ‘backer rotation and some of the things he’s doing from that standpoint.”
Before the Browns’ bye, Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin spoke with the team about how to become successful and his on- and off-the-field experiences as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Irvin, an analyst for NFL Network, also serves as a mentor to current players, including Cleveland wide receivers
“As part of the NFL, it’s mandatory to have a presentation to the guys,” said Chudzinski, a former teammate of Irvin’s at the University of Miami. “Michael doesn’t typically do those presentations, but I think just the message he can relay as a former player -- as a guy who’s gone through a lot of ups and downs in his career and his own life, a guy who has seen and started with a team that wasn’t winning and went through the process of winning and becoming a champion -- had a lot to bring to the table for our guys and be able to talk to them in a way and share his experiences, and I felt like those experiences would help.
“I think that Michael, with the success that he’s had -- everybody knows and can see the success a Hall of Fame guy, a Hall of Fame receiver -- is as competitive of a person you’ve ever met in your life. Anytime a guy like that, who I know our guys look up to, takes that kind of interest in them, I think that’s positive.”