It's a reminder, not a motivator.
That's how Browns players and coach Kevin Stefanski summed up the meaning of how last year's AFC Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs has impacted the team's preparations for the 2021 season opener, which just so happens to take place against the same team and in the same stadium.
"That is always something that is in the back of your mind," Browns QB Baker Mayfield said before Wednesday's practice at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. "It is the last time you stepped foot on the field for real, and just knowing if you win that game, you are in the conference championship and the next game the Super Bowl. Just knowing how close you are to that and all of the little things matter.
"For us, as we continue to talk about our goal this week is to do our job and focus on that, and it is all of the little things matter."
It's about focus, not revenge.
All of the time that has separated the loss in January from Sunday's season opener has been about how the Browns can be even better than the team that earned the opportunity to face the Chiefs in the second round of last year's playoffs.
"Any time you are one of those 31 teams that do not [win the Super Bowl], you take that last loss personally and you carry that with you in the offseason," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "I think once you get into training camp that you turn the page and you are on to this year, 2021.
"Obviously, they are a great football team and we know that this is going to be a challenge, but it is Game 1, and we have to pour everything we have into it into Game 1."
It's a big game because it's the next game, veteran LB Anthony Walker said. That sentiment was echoed by just about everyone that went through interviews Wednesday.
"Anytime you are playing in the NFL, you are playing against the best of the best. For us, it is about playing the guy in front of us and doing our job," Mayfield said. "For us, we erased last year. We are trying to start from Game Zero and move on from there. We are trying to evaluate ourselves based on how we do our jobs and executing."
DE Jadeveon Clowney did not practice Wednesday because of an illness.
Stefanski said Clowney tested negative for COVID-19. He hoped to have the Pro Bowl pass rusher back for Thursday's practice.
G Michael Dunn (back) was the only other player who was unable to practice.
Chubb More Vocal?
Mayfield raised a few eyebrows Wednesday when he said RB Nick Chubb had been a "more vocal" leader of late.
"He is definitely more vocal this year, which I think he has been eager to get back at it," Mayfield said. "I would say that is the biggest difference."
That sentiment was news to Stefanski, who has lauded Chubb for his no-nonsense, lead-by-example style ever since he became the Browns head coach. It was also news to Chubb, who cracked a smile when he was asked about Mayfield's observation.
"I don't know if I agree with that," Chubb said. "Maybe I have. Just naturally, I don't know."
Bring The Noise
The Browns pumped in crowd noise throughout training camp and will do the same this week as they prepare for their first game in front of a capacity crowd since 2019.
Arrowhead Stadium was loud enough with limited capacity. It will be a different animal Sunday.
"I can only imagine how loud it is going to be," Mayfield said. "We have to know our game plan inside and out to where if a guy does not hear complete calls, they know exactly where to fill in the pieces. We just have to be great at communication, getting lined up quick to where we have to change or fix something and we can do it efficiently. For our guys, it is just knowing the plan, doing your job and handling the adversity.
"It is not like we are going to be shocked by the environment. We know exactly what we are stepping into. We just have to do our job."