BEREA, Ohio -- A record crowd of 4,466 -- the clearest sign yet of the optimism fans have for the Cleveland Browns -- gathered Sunday for the team's first practice of training camp in full pads.
And the excitement and energy of the crowd had a definite impact on the action on the field.
Besides the familiar sounds of pads clicking as players collided, there also was a great sense of competition throughout the session as training camp moved into its fourth day.
“We had a good first day in pads,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “It started out a little bit slow, but we picked it up and ended up having a good practice. We really focused on the red zone, which is an area we really want to concentrate on and improve, and make improvements on this season. We had a good practice.
“You want to push guys. You want to put guys in situations that are tougher, stress them, push them when they’re tired. That’s really what training camp’s for, developing mental toughness, and we want to do that with everybody on our team.”
Sunday marked the first time Chudzinski and his staff had to evaluate first-round draft pick
“It’s great work for him,” Chudzinski said. “He flashed. I saw him getting around the edge on some guys. He had a nice counter move on his pass rush. It was a good day to see him, and get him in pads and really see these guys full-speed going against each other, finally.
“We want to be able to look at them, give them a chance to show what they can do and for us to assess them, see what their strengths are and be able to adjust and put in the best things and try to put them in the best position to succeed.”
The session also gave Chudzinski a deeper look at running back
Lewis, who took some second-team repetitions Sunday, gained 171 yards and scored two touchdowns on 36 carries in his previous two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I thought he did a good job,” Chudzinski said of Lewis. “He’s had a couple good practices out there. Since pads have come on, with running backs, it’s easier to see them and evaluate them when the actual blocking schemes are happening. He’s had a good couple days.
“He can stop and start. Really, he has good vision, and I think that’s showing up as well.”
Lewis earned attention from the Browns’ defense when he stutter-stepped his way into the end zone during a red-zone drill.
“Being the first day, everything’s tighter,” Chudzinski said of the red-zone work. “The space down there is tighter, so decisions have to be quicker, and getting comfortable with what we’re doing from a scheme standpoint because everything happens fast down there. Getting familiar with that, doing it and executing it and seeing it over and over and over again is the important thing we’re looking for.”
Second-year Browns wide receiver
“The last two days, Josh has really come out and competed,” Chudzinski said. “He’s come out with a plan in practice of what he wants to work on and get better. You’ve seen those plays that he’s able to make. He’s going after the ball, and he’s going strong to the ball.”
Following practice, Chudzinski provided updates on the Browns that were either hurt during the drills or missed the on-field work because of a previous injury.