ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor hasn’t watched much of Hard Knocks, the HBO show he and his teammates will star in later this summer, and isn’t quite sure what to expect when the cameras start rolling come training camp.
That said, Taylor is confident the award-winning documentary series won’t be a distraction and, instead, could cast a positive spotlight on an exciting time in franchise history.
“The focus for me is that it doesn't take away from the preparation of guys daily. But I don't think that’s going to be the case. I think guys are excited about having them around, but it’s not going to take away focus from the actual game,” Taylor said Monday at the annual Cleveland Browns Foundation golf tournament. “As long as guys can keep focusing and go to work every day with the right mindset that we’re getting ready for our season, then it can be a good thing. It'll be able to showcase the talent that we have on the team, see personalities that people won't see. But I'm looking forward to it.”
The Browns, in conjunction with HBO Sports and NFL Films, announced last week they’ll be the focus of the annual, all-access series, which will take viewers inside Cleveland’s preparations for its 2018 campaign. The five-episode season is set to debut in early August.
Head coach Hue Jackson, who has been a subject of the show twice as an assistant with the Bengals, is eager to showcase an overhauled roster that added Taylor, Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and haul of notable free agents during the offseason. The Browns also drafted their quarterback-of-the-future, Baker Mayfield, with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft last month and tabbed former Ohio State star cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth pick.
“I’m excited, I really am. For our football team and organization and city. I really am,” Jackson said of the show. “I think our focus is to have a great training camp and be the best football team that we can be. It won’t be about the cameras. I’ve been a part of it, and it wasn’t about that then, so I don't think it’ll be about that now.”
Browns fifth-year left guard Joel Bitonio echoed a similar sentiment. “From what I’ve heard from a few guys that have done it before, the cameras are there but they're not intrusive,” he said, “and so I’m excited.”
Others, like second-year defensive end and former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, are less sure what to expect but remain open-minded. “I've never really watched Hard Knocks. I know (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams showed us a clip of when he was on there," Garrett said. Williams, who enters his second year with Cleveland, was showcased in the 2016 season with the Rams.
Taylor, the former Bills starting signal-caller whom Cleveland acquired via trade at the start of the new league year, said it’s his responsibility to keep a young team focused should it somehow get off track. “I think that I definitely have to be vocal about that, as far as making sure everyone stays focused,” he said. “We’re planning on a big season and we need everyone focused and dialed in.”
Regardless, Taylor said, training camp is a pivotal time for the team. The addition of more lights and cameras, he added, shouldn’t become an issue.
“I haven't really watched the show so I don't really know everything that goes on,” he said, “but it’s an opportunity for us as a team to come together. That’s what I look at training camp as, of course going out there and competing, but it’s another opportunity for us to come together.”