Jarvis Landry is embracing the start of the new football season at a different level than his previous seven years in the NFL.
First, he's healthy, an adjective he couldn't always use to describe how he felt as he played in 17 of the Browns' 18 games last season. Landry played through a broken rib and only missed a game due to being listed as a close contact when a Browns player tested positive for COVID-19. He was fully healthy in training camp, and the Browns ensured he'd be fully healthy for Week 1, too, by limiting his reps while still enabling him to regain his chemistry with the offense.
He's also happy. The excitement level surrounding the talent on the Browns roster is at one its highest points in franchise history. Part of that is because of the culture Landry helped create when he came to Cleveland in 2018 — he's emulated the "smart, tough, accountable" motto used by Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry before the head coach-GM duo entered the building.
Now, it's all coming together. To make it all better, fans are back in the stands and some of the pandemic restrictions that hampered the fun of the Browns' 2020 success have eased.
This is the type of setting Landry hoped to establish in Cleveland.
"I'm really just happy and excited to be in a great place right now and have an opportunity to play football again the way I know it's been played with fans, and with these guys and this group," Landry said.
Asked if this could be his best season yet, Landry chuckled.
"I surely hope so."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Kansas City Chiefs
Landry and the Browns will start one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history Sunday with a trip to Arrowhead Stadium, where they'll look to spoil what promises to be a raucous home crowd for the Chiefs, back-to-back champions of the AFC and perhaps the best ongoing dynasty in the NFL.
The excitement for the Browns, though, is arguably just as high in Cleveland. Their current blueprint is capable of trending in a similar direction as the Chiefs, and Landry hasn't been afraid to look ahead and discuss what possibilities might be ahead if the Browns continue their climb up the NFL ladder.
"Why not?" he said at his charity softball game in June when asked whether the Browns should be talking about the Super Bowl. "It's something that people always say you should not talk about, but nobody trains or nobody does what they do to not be a champion. So that's the standard. So why not talk about it? It's real. It's sick to be humble about what everybody is actually chasing."
With the first game of the season four days away, Landry has narrowed his focus back to the one-week-at-a-time mindset Stefanski preaches to his players daily. The Browns know they can go toe to toe with the Chiefs — especially after the close 22-17 loss suffered last season in the AFC Divisional Round.
That loss has stuck in Landry's mind throughout the offseason.
"As we have seen for the last couple of years throughout the AFC, that is one of the teams you have to face and you're going to have to beat and play with," he said. "We believe a lot that happened in that game and last season was self-inflicted. We did things that did not help us win games. We're trying to get those things corrected throughout this offseason, throughout training camp and here finishing out the week before we head up."
Landry is willing to do anything to help the Browns reach that level. That's why he played through a rib injury all of last season. That's why he's become one of the most respected Browns veterans in recent decades.
Now, that contagious drive has permeated throughout the locker room. It's one of the biggest reasons why the Browns are now set to play in one of the most-anticipated games of Week 1.
And it's one of the biggest reasons why Landry is cherishing the start of this season like never before.
"Having guys that think alike, that treat the game and play the game at the highest standard, that is your team and that is your culture," Landry said. "Stefanski, since Day 1 when he's walked in, he's been about the work ethic and about being tough, accountable and resilient.
"Those are things that, as I'm spitting it back out to you, have been drilled in our heads."