Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said he felt different when he first walked into the team’s Berea training facility for the start of the offseason workout program on April 1 than he did leaving the building at the end of the 2012 regular season.
And the eighth-year linebacker embraced that new feeling that he said coach Rob Chudzinski, defensive coordinator Ray Horton and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have brought to the team.
“I’ve known Chud,” Jackson said. “He was here with a previous staff, and just having a familiar face in the building that I respected from way back when, and just meeting Norv Turner, Ray Horton, these guys are great coordinators. It’s documented with Norv Turner. He’s been a head coach.
“They’re definitely creating a different vibe around here, and it’s a winning vibe that I haven’t been a part of since I’ve been here. Everything, right now, is smooth. I hope it continues throughout the season. From the strength and conditioning coach to the guys, it was good to see the guys come back in the building. We have a good locker room, and I’m excited about this season.”
Jackson was one of the first players to contact Horton after his appointment to the Browns’ staff. He immediately recognized what the 29-year NFL veteran brings to the meeting room. In addition to 19 years as a coach, Horton spent a decade as a defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys.
“The way he thinks up these pressures, he’s putting guys in the best position to be successful,” Jackson said. “I’ve watched every one of Arizona’s games last year to see what his blueprint was, and I was excited then.”
In addition to a new coordinator, Jackson also will be playing for new linebackers coaches in Ken Flajole (inside) and Brian Baker (outside).
“They’re smart; they’re sharp men,” Jackson said. “We’re all in this thing together. It’s going to get done. We have a minicamp coming up, and we’ve ironed out a lot of defenses right now, and I love every one of them. We’re going to be aggressive this year. It’s just a matter of us getting the system down, so we can start the season off rolling going into minicamp next week.”
Since the start of the offseason program, players have been working with new strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll, who takes a body-and-mind approach to training his players. In trying to improve their physical abilities, Roll wants to make sure every part of the body is working in unison and will allow the players to better focus on their tasks.
“He’s a fireball,” Jackson said of Roll. “He’s a fireball at 8:30 in the morning. He’s up and at ’em. Whatever he does to fire him up, he’s that way every day. It’s a great thing. He brings energy to this building, something that we hadn’t had in years past. It’s a great thing for a guy like myself and for the young guys, seeing a guy have the energy every day, and it’s a lot for him to do, but it comes easy to him.”
Next week, the team will conduct a voluntary three-day minicamp, which will be the first time the coaching staff will get to work with the players on the football field. Phase two of the Browns’ offseason workout program begins the following week.
“Once you get back in this building, you get on the grind and you look next to you and see a guy working as hard as you are,” Jackson said. “That bond never goes anywhere. Our mission right now is to get to the postseason, win in the playoffs. Coach Chudzinski has a saying, ‘Win the one.’ ‘Win the one’ means win today, max out today and that’s just what we’re doing.”