The Browns are as optimistic as they can be. After Cleveland's disappointing campaign a season ago, linebacker Christian Kirksey made headlines when he tweeted the Browns would make the playoffs.
He isn't backing off that statement, either.
Kirksey, along with Browns teammate Jarvis Landry, have made bold predictions for the 2018 season. Head coach Hue Jackson likes the optimism but knows the playoffs aren't made with proclamations.
"We have got a lot of work to do," Jackson said. "I love that our players are excited about the team in the locker room, but at the same time statements do not mean anything, the action (does). I support our players whole-heartedly – no question about that – but this is so early in the game for us right now. What we need to do is put our head down and just work, and just keep getting better as a football team each and every day. Hopefully, those things become a reality. You have got to believe something first before it ever happens. Our guys are saying those things, but at the same time have got to back it up, have got to work."
Kirksey's original playoff prediction came on Twitter. Members of the media asked him about the tweet Friday, and he was firm on his stance that he believes Cleveland will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
"I have been here for going on five years. This team that we have together right now, is one of the better units that I have been around," he said. "Just seeing the type of guys added to the team – the draft picks and all of that – it is just a different feel. I think the coaching staff they have put together, General Manager (John Dorsey), everyone is one the same page. I was very confident in that tweet, and I stick to it. I truly believe that."
The Browns practice on Friday on the second day of 2018 Training Camp.
— Kirksey also spoke highly of Jamie Collins as well as his new teammate Mychal Kendricks. Not having Collins for the back half of the 2017 season hurt the Browns' defense, so he has been welcomed back with open arms.
"It is nothing but love. Whenever you see your teammate back at full force, especially one of the dominant players in this league and on this team, it is definitely nice to be able to see so I am glad he is back," Kirksey said. "That is one of my great teammates, friends off the field so I am happy to see him."
— Kendricks performed in team drills for the first time during training camp Friday. A reigning Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kendricks was signed to bolster Cleveland's depth at linebacker, and so far, Kirksey loves what he sees from his position group.
"I think our linebackers in this room are interchangeable," he said. "We can play different positions in that linebacker group. We can all play MIKE, WILL and SAM. We have different talents that some people are stronger in, and we have certain play calls that will maximizes someone's strength. Adding as many weapons as you can is the best thing to do."
— Jackson faced questions about the possible addition of free agents in the coming days, but he maintained his claim that won't comment on players not on the current Browns roster. He added that Dorsey will bring in anyone he deems fit to help the team succeed this season.
"We are always looking for good players," Jackson said. "We cannot get enough of those kind of guys – guys that can make plays with the ball. Again, John is going to keep churning this thing as much as he can, keep finding talent and see if it is good for us."
— Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde are both veterans, but they know rookie Nick Chubb has a unique skillset. Chubb, the SEC's second all-time leading rusher, already has a nickname in the running back's room: Old School. He's an old-style runner, and he's not flashy with anything he does, so it was an easy nickname for Johnson to gift him.
— Jackson said Jabrill Peppers, who is currently on the non-football injury list, hurt his groin in an offseason workout, but there is optimism he will begin practicing next week.