There's already one major difference Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell has noticed about himself at the start of training for his second NFL season: He's more relaxed.
After spending the offseason in the Bahamas, Miami and addressing kids in Georgia about how valuable second chances can be, Crowell, with his 225-pound chiseled frame, has arrived back in Berea with assurance he can build off his rookie campaign.
By any measure, the undrafted Crowell tore down the expectations placed upon him as the third-string running back to begin the season. His eight touchdowns were one shy of what Hall of Famer Jim Brown posted in his rookie season with the Browns back in 1957. Crowell became a fan favorite of the Dawg Pound with the intensity he showed each time he had the ball.
But after an 88-yard outburst in Atlanta, including a galloping 26-yard touchdown run, Crowell admittedly hit the dreaded rookie wall. In the Browns' final five games, the young running back carried the football 58 times for 161 yards – good for just 3.6 yards per carry.
After some self-reflection and a better understanding of how the NFL works, Crowell told Cleveland Browns Daily on Monday why he thinks the city of Cleveland will see a much improved No. 34 on Sundays.
"It was being too anxious. I feel like that will be better for Year 2," Crowell said. "I was trying to get everything down pat and move too quickly. But now, I feel like I can be more patient.
"Now, I feel more confident. It's not really too much different – it's just football. I can be relaxed out there and focus on helping my team win."
Even though the Browns have revamped their passing game with wide receivers Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, coach Mike Pettine has been clear Cleveland will go as far as Crowell – and fellow rookie Terrance West – can take them.
Instead of developing a rivalry for who gets the most carries, Crowell and West have embraced each other, and have even made a pact together. Somehow they kept it under the social media radar, but Crowell flew up to Baltimore this offseason to get some workouts in with West, and, in turn, West flew down to Atlanta.
That pact? Both Crowell and West want to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"That's the plan," Crowell said. "Both of us want the ball and I think both of us have what it takes to play in the NFL for a long time. I'm happy he's with me. We plan on doing some big things."
The offensive goals are becoming loftier in Cleveland because of what offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has planned for the unit. Crowell said the offense is generally similar to last season's scheme, but there will be distinctions.
Two hints from Crowell: The pass protection is different and we will see him more as a receiver out of the backfield.
We're still more than four months away from an NFL regular season game, so Crowell will have time to become a master of the playbook. And, in the meantime, he dropped a little bombshell of his own: He's been working on a touchdown celebration.
"You will see a dance this year," Crowell said, with an emphatic roar of laughter.