Training Camp

Need to Know: Christian Kirksey says new tackling rule won't slow him down

Christian Kirksey recently appeared on an NFL demonstrational video — for the wrong reason. 

As part of the new NFL rules "highlight" film regarding the proper way to tackle, a play made by Kirksey against the Colts last season was on the tape, showing players how not to tackle. At the time, Kirksey didn't think it was a dirty hit, but it might have gotten flagged if it happened this season.

The new rule, passed by the league in March, states that a player can be penalized and/or disqualified for lowering his helmet or leading with the crown of the helmet. It's something the players have to avoid, but that's easier said than done.

"It's going to happen," Kirksey said. "It's football. It's a fast-paced game, and things happen in a matter of time. It's unfortunate that penalties are going to be called, but they're just trying to make sure that players' health is first and foremost to eliminate some of the head injuries, concussions and things like that."

The NFL has put an emphasis on helmet-to-helmet collisions, as studies on CTE and concussions linked to football have increased. Kirksey said the rule won't be a hard adjustment, though, because everyone in the league knows how to tackle. He did add: "As a defender, in the back of your head, you wonder, 'if I make this play, am I — a possibility of me being kicked out of the game?'" 

Possibly, yes. That thought hasn't slowed down Kirksey just yet. He's going to keep playing linebacker with the same physical brand.

"It might slow some players down, but you have to find a way to get through it," he said.

—In his first interview of training camp, David Njoku brushed off a rough couple days last week. The second-year tight end isn't worried about having a bad day in practice — because it's just practice: "It is practice," he said. "That is why we are here at training camp – to get better every single day. I feel I am getting better, along with the other tight ends. I feel like they are also getting better. It is great progress. We are working really hard."

— Chad Thomas, third-round draft pick, current Browns defensive end and music producer known as "Major Nine," has produced his own music and worked with Rick Ross on tracks. But once football season started, Thomas paused his music career. He considers the music-making as a hobby. Football is his career.

"I put it on hold," Thomas said. "Once football season starts and we start training and everything, I take a break from the music."

— Corey Coleman and T.J. Carrie have encountered each other multiple times in one-on-one drills throughout the early stages of training camp, and it's shaping a nice rivalry between the two. Carrie has his wins, and Coleman defeats him from time to time. Carrie loves the competition in practice. It's not just used for competition, though, as they're making each other better on the field. 

"He has great hands, great speed and he is very aggressive in some of the routes that he runs," Carrie said of Coleman. "That is going to be a great competition. He and I talk on sharpening each other skills, what receivers like to do and what defensive backs like to do just making sure we are going against each other at our bests. It is always good when iron sharpens iron."

— The Browns roster is full of young — but talented — players. The Browns were busy on draft day, and the depth chart is littered with rookies. Head coach Hue Jackson believes the rookies are starting to catch up with the speed of the game.

"It's still a work in progress," Jackson said. "Every day, these guys are going to get a little bit better in understanding what the coaches want, how we do it, how we go about it. This is a top-down thing. I'm on the coaches, the coaches are on the players. There's a lot more in this football team." 

— Kirksey said that although Joe Schobert hinted at Kirksey showing off for the "Hard Knocks" cameras, he's been himself through training camp. He added that Schobert might find himself in the limelight during the HBO special: "He's a camera guy, too," he said. "They've been following him around."

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