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Mike Pettine: Players must take advantage of their opportunities

Posted Aug 12, 2014

The head coach wants players to maximize chances for success in the meeting room and on the field.

Taylor Gabriel

As almost everyone else’s attention is glued to the competition for the starting quarterback job, Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine has other places he needs to look when gauging his players’ readiness for the season.

That goes with the territory of overseeing an entire team.

And that doesn’t stop with what happens on the field during training-camp practices or preseason games. Pettine also makes a point of focusing on how his players function in the meeting room as well.

As far as he is concerned, it isn’t enough for one player to respond to the corrective instruction he gets from his position coach. All of the other players at that spot must pay close attention as well.

“I tell the guys in the meetings that they’re responsible for all the coaching points made at their position,” Pettine said. “If I’m a safety and another safety gets corrected, that should be the cumulative – the group needs to learn from that.

“As long as we’re moving forward eliminating mistakes and not repeating them, I think that’s the most critical part of any team’s development. You’re looking for a good jump from week one to week two and two into three. I think it’s important that we don’t take any steps back.”

That is particularly true at wide receiver, where some young players, such as rookie free agents Taylor Gabriel and Willie Snead, are waging an intense battle for a place on the roster.

They only have so many opportunities to show what they can do in practice and, especially, in preseason games, with frequent rotations of the lineup.

“When they have a chance to make a play, they’ve got to make it,” Pettine said. “There won’t be that many opportunities. That’s just the nature of it. When you have the numbers situation that you’re in, sometimes the game might play out where they don’t get that many opportunities. They have to take advantage of them.”

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NFL …

THE TENNESSEE TITANS have an interesting way of trying to discourage players from making mistakes. After apparently failing to run a proper pass route in the Titans’ preseason-opener against the Green Bay Packers, wide receiver Justin Hunter wound up having the name on the back of his practice jersey changed to JAG, which stands for “Just Another Guy.” “The receivers have been talking about that for a minute, since last year, just playing around,” Hunter was quoted as saying in the Tennessean. “But then coach (Ken Whisenhunt) said something about it in a meeting … and said, ‘Justin, you can be a great player, but after that play, you look like ‘Just Another Guy.’”

WIDE RECEIVER DESEAN JACKSON had plenty of people on the Washington Redskins frightened when he suffered a sprained ankle last week that caused him to miss the team’s preseason-opener against the New England Patriots. Jackson has returned to practice, and is expected to play in Monday night’s game against the Browns.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com. We take your questions at 216-578-0850 and via Twitter @Browns_Daily.

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