Browns planning to travel to Indianapolis for joint practices with Colts

PHOENIX -- John Dorsey has spent the early portion of the offseason upgrading the Browns' roster in a variety of areas. Come August, they'll get a chance to test that roster against an actual opponent.

The Browns general manager on Monday told reporters his team is planning to travel to Indianapolis to participate in three days of joint practices with the Colts in August. The three days of activities in Indianapolis would culminate with an actual exhibition game between the Browns and Colts in Week 2 of the preseason.

"It takes the dog days, it takes all the repetition out," Dorsey said during a break at the NFL’s league meetings. "You have an opposing team that you're playing. You can kind of measure them up and guys can work against different schemes and players and it's another set of competitive steps you want to take moving forward."

The NFL’s preseason and regular season schedules have not been finalized. They’re both expected to be released in mid-April.

Dorsey picked quite a litmus test of an opponent in Indianapolis.

The Colts were the turnaround story of the NFL in 2018, going from 4-12 to 10-6, an AFC Wild Card berth and a playoff win over the AFC South champion Houston Texans. At the head of it was a remade offensive line featuring rookie All-Pro Quenton Nelson, and a defense that was surprisingly effective, thanks in part to the play of rookie All-Pro Darius Leonard.

The Colts' offensive line -- one of the five best in the NFL in 2018, per NFL.com -- will be an excellent test for Cleveland's new-look pass rush, which will feature Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and Emmanuel Ogbah. The Browns will quickly learn how effective they can be in attacking the quarterback with three days' worth of individual, group and team session work.

Cleveland will also get a firsthand encounter with how a true contender operates on a daily basis. Colts coach Frank Reich found himself in Freddie Kitchens' current shoes one year ago, a first-time head coach learning the ropes while also attempting to make his new team into a legitimate threat. 

Reich talked a big game in the lead-up to 2018, something that seemed slightly hyperbolic at the time, but proved to be true. Indianapolis won in a variety of ways, always relying on a consistent and well-paced offense and a defense that wasn't legendary, but always gave the offense a chance to go win the game.

Second-year guard Austin Corbett will also get a chance to observe how a fellow youngster finds early success when he shares a field with Nelson, the No. 6 pick who was a Pro Bowl player from very early in his first season. Corbett is expected to step into a starting role with the Browns this season, and spending time on the same field with a draft classmate (Corbett was the No. 33 pick) should be beneficial. The Browns' offensive line will also receive an early test from Pro Bowl pass rusher Justin Houston, who signed with the Colts last week.

Cleveland will also get a meeting with Matt Eberflus' zone-heavy defense, presenting plenty of chances for Baker Mayfield to fine-tune his ability to pick apart defenders dropping into coverage.

Dorsey added he'd like to host joint practices in 2020 in Berea, though they'll have to work on finding a team to participate.

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