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Training Camp

5 things to know from Browns training camp, Day 1

The Browns opened training camp for the first time under head coach Hue Jackson on a hot and muggy Friday afternoon as scattered thunderstorms passed overhead.

"I thought it was a good overall first day, it wasn't a great first day, but overall, good first day," Jackson said. "But what I'm anticipating is our guys will come out tomorrow chomping at the bit to get after it in Day Two. We've got a long way to go, it's just the start, but I was excited about our guys' energy."

Without further ado, here's five things to know from Day One of training camp.

'I know he'll be ready'

Browns cornerback Joe Haden was confident he'll be ready for the team's opener against Philadelphia — and even perhaps earlier — as he nears the finish line in his recovery following ankle surgery in March.

"I've been working hard, I've been here the whole offseason and the training staff, we've been doing a really good job and we have a really good schedule and just getting better every day," he said."

Jackson said there's "no question" Haden will be ready for the Sept. 11 game.

"He's progressed really well … but we're going to the right thing and take our time because Joe is very valuable to our football team. He's one of the keys to us having an opportunity to win," he said.

"He'll have an opportunity, hopefully, in the preseason to play but I know for a fact that he'll be out there getting ready to play in the opening game."

Kessler's first training camp

As the Browns continue to evaluate their options at quarterback before naming a starter, rookie Cody Kessler spent the offseason with his head buried in the playbook.

"It was work. I got after it. I went back to California and trained out there. Just stuck in my playbook, was throwing five or six times a week, was doing everything I could to kind of get a head start on fall camp," he said. "I've never had a training camp before so I wanted to come in as prepared as I possibly could be."

Kessler, who was drafted in the third round this spring, is part of a quarterbacks room that includes Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Austin Davis. Before taking the field Friday, he spoke to reporters about what he expected out of his first training camp practice, saying he can be a perfectionist and needs to understand the transition to the league is a "learning process."

"But I don't use it as an excuse. I still want to come in and not make mistakes or eliminate mistakes, but I think the biggest thing for me is just progress – continue to improve, don't make the same mistakes twice, don't make the same mistakes I made in the spring with OTAs and minicamp," he said.

"I'm excited to compete. I'm excited to get out here in front of the fans and kind of get the vibe of a real training camp. I've already got to see how great Cleveland was so now I get to practice in front of some of the fans with the rest of the guys, and it's just great to be back and get started."

What's in a No. 2 tight end?

After sports hernia surgery in June, Gary Barnidge looked like his Pro Bowl self and figures to play a key role in the offense after a breakout 2015 season. And in Jackson's offense, tight ends will have to be versatile players who can catch, block and run.

"We've done everything," he said. "Everybody has been everywhere, and that's the great thing about it because you never know what's going to happen. It just keeps everybody on their toes."

Barnidge also spoke of what the Browns might be looking for in a No. 2 tight end, which remains an open competition among the likes of E.J. Bibbs, Connor Hamlett, Randall Telfer, J.P. Holtz, fourth-round draft pick Seth DeValve and undrafted rookie David Reeves.

"I think every tight end is going to have an opportunity to do everything. It's not going to be 'this guy does this, this guy does that,'" Barnidge said. "Everybody is going to be moved around, and I think everybody on offense will be that way. It just makes it tough for the defense."

Playing free

As he enters his first training camp with the Browns, Robert Griffin III spoke of having fun and playing free before Friday's practice.

"This is a kid's game and we get to play for a king's ransom. At the end of the day, you know what you're doing. You've done your studying, you continue to do your studying, you've worked hard, you've run, you've lifted, all those things, and now you just gotta come out here and have fun," he said.

"I think that's the beauty of the game. The more fun you have, the easier it is to play freely and go out and make plays."

Jackson, asked about that notion, echoed a similar sentiment.

"I think all football players have to be who they are and just play. It's still a child's game, as they say, and you have to kind of play that way. It's kind of like a backyard mentality a little bit, but it's also discipline because, again, we can't turn the ball over or do things that are going to hurt our football team," he said. "But at the same time, they have to really enjoy what they're doing, just like I enjoy coaching and our coaches enjoy coaching. We love what we do and I hope our players do too."


Take a look at the first day of Browns Training Camp, which took place Friday in Berea.

McCown embracing competition**

Veteran quarterback Josh McCown's pre-practice session with reporters began with whether or not he could race fellow signal-caller Griffin in a marathon.

"How far is a marathon?" McCown said, laughing. "Are we running a half or we running a full? That dude is in shape so I don't know. I don't even like to drive that far. Only one [of us] runs a 4.3 (40-yard dash) and it's not me."

The lighthearted moment seemed to underscore a bond that's formed among the Browns quarterbacks — from the pair of vets to Kessler and Austin Davis — as they vie to be the team's starting quarterback.

McCown, who started eight games last season and completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,409 yards and 12 touchdowns, said he's embracing the competition and won't worry about whether or not he takes reps with the first-team offense.

"The reps will go how they go. We'll see today and then every rep that I get, I'm going to play as if I'm the starter," he said. "That's the thing really and truly in competition for us, and as long as I've been around, the guys who stay in the league and around, they play that way. They play as if they're the starter even when they're not, and if they're the starter, they play as if someone's trying to take their job."

He added: "Ultimately, that's going to draw the best out of Robert and Austin and Cody and vice versa for them and to me. That's the idea. That's the environment that Coach Jackson has provided for us, a competitive environment and we'll go about it that way. Hopefully, that leads us to the best quarterback room we can have."

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