The Cleveland Browns completed their first week of organized team activities and seventh week of the offseason program with Thursday’s practice, and in talking about the players at the 2013 Cleveland Browns Foundation Golf Outing Friday, head coach Rob Chudzinski was pleased with the work put they have put in.
“I can’t be happier with the progress that we’ve made,” Chudzinski told the participants in the golf outing. “We’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re excited about things and the direction things are going.
“The offseason program, I’ve really been excited about that. Our turnout, and the players’ commitment has been outstanding. That started April 1. We went through the process of the meetings and getting a chance to be with them in meetings, install our offense, our defense, our special teams packages, get some time in the weight room with them, some time out in individual-type sessions where we can be on the field with them.”
Chudzinski said the team had a good offseason with the additions to the roster through free agency, the 2013 NFL Draft, and a trade during draft weekend. This week, Chudzinski and his coaches got to see players he described as “people that we want to have in the locker room” compete against each other during OTA practices.
Per the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association, in the early part of the offseason, players are not allowed to participate in on-field drills, and only attend meetings and strength-and-conditioning workouts. In phase two of the program, the players can go on the field with coaches, but cannot compete against the other side of the ball.
Organized team activities are the first time players can compete against each other.
“We’re really looking to see what guys can transfer from the meeting rooms to the practice field and the execution, that’s the primary thing that we’re looking for as we continue to evaluate the guys on our team,” Chudzinski said. “We’re looking for the execution to really start improving.”
Chudzinski said one of the best things about this time of year is taking a group of 90 players and nearly 20 coaches and turning them into a team that will kick off the 2013 regular season against the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium, Home of the Cleveland Browns, on Sunday, Sept. 8.
“We’re a roster right now, and from a coach’s standpoint, we get to start building the team,” Chudzinski said. “It’s one of the most important processes as part of a team and being a team, building that attitude and accountability to each other. That’s what we’re working on right now, and that’s what we’ll continue to work on through the rest of OTAs, through minicamp, through training camp and into the preseason.”
Chudzinski, a native of Sandusky, Ohio, about 70 minutes west of Cleveland, also said he is “excited and honored” to coach the Browns, and has a desire to turn around the fortunes of his hometown team, especially after sitting on a plane next to Bob Hartley, a season-ticket holder since 1987.
“He had kidney stones, and he was telling the story of how he was in the hospital and it was Sunday morning, and he was bummed out because he was going to miss the game,” Chudzinski recalled. “All of his buddies came to the hospital and made him check out with the kidney stones and go to the game, so his streak continues to this day.
“It reminds me of the passion, the dedication, the commitment of our fans, the fans of the Cleveland Browns and what special people you are. It brings us back, and brings me back to what our commitment is to this city, to this organization: to bring back a winner to Cleveland, and that’s what we’re going to do.”