The Browns have had better days, but Hue Jackson and players were unanimous in their belief that the team's recent adversity won't be a hindrance as it prepares for Sunday's season opener.
On Wednesday, top overall pick Myles Garrett went down at practice with a high ankle sprain that will prevent him from playing Sunday against the Steelers and is considered "week to week" moving forward. On Thursday, the Browns released safety Calvin Pryor in the wake of an "internal matter."
It's not ideal circumstances heading into the start of a season, but those are the breaks football can hand a team at times, Jackson said.
"Have you guys ever seen me run from anything? So, I am not about to now," Jackson said at his Thursday press conference. "I mean, if anything our team is a little bit tighter, a little bit more stronger, because of the things that have happened. We grow from this."
That growth was displayed in the locker room after Thursday's practice. Player after player stepped behind a microphone and expressed how there was little that could detract the team's focus from the first game of the season against an opponent of the caliber of the Steelers.
"There is always stuff that goes on throughout the week," veteran left tackle Joe Thomas said. "It is just a matter of what you want to focus on. As a player, it is always important to just kind of focus on your little slice of the pie. Focus on what you can control and the great news is, usually when you are in game week you are kind of overwhelmed with game plan stuff and preparing for your opponent anyway, that you don't have a lot of opportunity to worry about anything else that is going on outside of just your job."
A noticeably upbeat Jackson liked the energy he saw from the team in its two biggest practices leading up to its 129th meeting with Pittsburgh. He expects it to carry over to FirstEnergy Stadium for the first game of 2017 that counts.
"We don't talk about that 'here we go again' feeling. We don't have that in this building. We are moving on," Jackson said. "We get to lay claim on what our season is going to be starting this week. That was the preseason. That is behind us. The regular season starts this week. We have a big game against a good opponent, and we expect to go out and play well in front of our family, friend and our fans. That is what this is all about."
-- Jackson is expecting a full dose of Pittsburgh Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell on Sunday.
Bell did not report for training camp and did not participate in any of the Steelers' preseason games. He was back with the team this week after signing his one-year franchise tag and is expected to be full go against the Browns.
"I expect to see him every play. He is a good football player. I think we know that. He is very talented, and I'm sure he is ready to go," Jackson said. "He will show up and play, but we will be there. We are going to play, too. That is the way football works."
Bell was a one-man wrecking crew against the Browns last season, rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown while adding eight catches for 55 yards. He did not play when the teams met in the season finale.
"We know what we have to do to stop those guys. We are not scared of them, but we also respect them," safety Jabrill Peppers said. "When you have players like that, they do require more attention than some other players. We are definitely going to try to limit those guys, but at the end of the day all we can do is execute the game plan, play hard and good things happen."
-- Corey Coleman is expecting to see plenty of his former teammate, Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, when he hits the field Sunday.
The second-year receiver expects the matchup to be "back and forth," just like it was at training camp.
"It will be weird," Coleman said. "Like I said, I'm going to go out there and compete. We are both going to go out there and do our best and give our teams the best chance to win. I have no doubt about that. I know he is going to bring his A game."