Mychal Kendricks estimates he's 95 percent healthy following an offseason ankle surgery which, according to the new Browns linebacker, is about as good as it gets considering the profession.
"That's 100 percent for a football player," he said with a smile.
Kendricks, who signed with the Browns in June after six seasons with the Eagles, made his debut with the team in Thursday's preseason win over the Giants. In relatively limited action, the versatile linebacker showed glimpses of what he might be able to do in Cleveland, registering the team's first sack by dropping Eli Manning early in the game.
The chance to showcase his skills was a breath of fresh air for Kendricks, who had been previously limited with his ankle on the mend. It was admittedly difficult, he said, to sit back and not practice as much as he wanted to — especially on a new team with new coaches and personnel folks to impress.
"There's always the want-to, right? There's your mind, your heart, then there's your body," he said. "Obviously wanting to come out here and compete is something that I want to do. If physically the guys that they have in place for the team – our trainers, our doctors – they feel that being held for the greater good of myself and the team is what's needed, then I'm obviously going to listen to that."
Kendricks, who started 74 games with the Eagles, helped lift them to a Super Bowl last season before parting ways with the team in May. In Cleveland, he enters a linebacker room that returns all three of its starters -- Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert and Jamie Collins — and drafted promising rookie Genard Avery in the fifth round. Where and how much Kendricks plays is up to the coaching staff. But so far, he's made a solid first impression.
— The Browns have made it clear they're interested in fortifying a wide receivers room in flux, including potentially signing former Cowboys star Dez Bryant. The three-time Pro Bowler said Thursday he plans on visiting Cleveland this week after unexpectedly parting ways with Dallas this past spring. If the Bryant-Browns marriage were to happen, wide receiver Jarvis Landry would welcome a new face to the room.
"If he wants to be here, we will welcome him with open arms. We would love to have him," he said. "He would be a great addition to our team and our offense, for sure. Right now, all that we can focus on is what we have."
Landry — who said he's friends with Bryant — added the veteran receiver would bring attitude, effort and ability to Cleveland. "I think that (offensive coordinator) Coach (Todd) Haley would do a really good job of getting him the ball, if he was here," he said. "If not, we have got guys that can make plays here, too."
— There were plenty of promising moments in Thursday's game against the Giants, but Cleveland's run game wasn't one of them. The Browns ran for 50 yards on 33 carries in New York, struggling to establish themselves at the line of scrimmage throughout the evening. Joel Bitonio, who recently moved from left guard to left tackle, said the ground game has to be better moving forward.
"We've been hammering it in walk through and in practice this week. I think that our double teams weren't super crisp. We had some missed identifications with some calls out there. We just weren't very successful," he said. "It was one of those first games where we are trying to get into a rhythm. I think that we will be better this week. We have really emphasized it."
To be fair, Cleveland's first-team offense saw limited action in the game but "we want to take pride in our running game and our physicality," Bitonio said. "That's something that we've been working on the past couple of days."