Training Camp

News & Notes: Freddie Kitchens welcomes Columbus Blue Jackets to practice, shares humorous thoughts on hockey

The Browns welcomed a couple of special visitors to their practice Tuesday in Berea.

Columbus Blue Jackets players Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky gave customized jerseys to head coach Freddie Kitchens and quarterback Baker Mayfield after practice and watched the Browns grind through another sweaty morning of training camp.

The Blue Jackets wrapped up a season in which they shocked the NHL and swept the No. 1-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs last April. Kitchens said he watched the Blue Jackets pull off the upset and admired the balance NHL players display on a much different playing surface than football.

“The run they went on was very impressive,” Kitchens said. “I was very excited watching it. They were telling our guys about how they make it look easy (on the field). I was like, ‘Hey, don’t give them too much credit. What you guys do is something.’ That’s impressive.’”

Check out photos from the eighteenth day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey

Kitchens is from Alabama, where hockey isn’t necessarily as popular as it is in other parts of the country. His hockey IQ isn’t quite as high as his football knowledge, but that doesn’t make the sport any less entertaining to watch.

“I like hockey,” Kitchens said. “I don’t really follow all the rules yet, although it tends to never matter when I still watch it. What they do is impressive, now.”

Don’t expect Kitchens to lace up a pair of hockey skates anytime soon, though. He recalled the time he last skated with his family, and he doesn’t want to endure the soreness he endured after skating a few laps around the rink.

“(I was) exhausted,” Kitchens said. “I’m done for two days. They’re out there doing it and making it look easy.”

— Genard Avery has enjoyed being a Swiss Army knife for the defense. The second-year linebacker has played all over the field in camp thus far and hopes his versatility will help him see more success after recording 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a rookie in 2018.

“They can put me anywhere — outside linebacker, middle linebacker, defensive end,” Avery said. “I like it. I’m very versatile, so wherever I can make plays and wherever they put me each week, there I go.”

— Offensive line coach James Campen said he will continue to shuffle players at the right guard position for the future. He hopes a more definitive answer will arise after they review the tape from the Browns next preseason game Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Hopefully, it is very apparent who that person is, but by no means is there anything set at this point in time,” Campen said. “Just continue to work. Guys are rolling in and working well.”

— Kitchens offered heavy praise toward cornerback Terrance Mitchell after practice Monday, and senior defensive assistant Chris Jones added to Kitchens’ sentiments about “Money Mitch” on Tuesday.

“T-Mitch is a pro,” Jones said. “He has been around pro football a long time. He is a guy who has had some ups and downs. He has not been perfect, but he comes to work every day and he is a fun guy to be around. The players really like him. They gravitate to him, and he gets his hands on a lot of footballs. That is advantageous to him.”

Denzel Ward said he feels much more comfortable in his second training camp. The 2018 first-round pick solidified himself as the Browns’ top cornerback after he corralled three interceptions and made 53 tackles as a rookie last season.

“This year, I am a lot more comfortable in knowing the playbook, knowing the guys and everything,” Ward said. “I’m just feeling more comfortable coming in, knowing what I am getting myself into.”

— The following players did not practice Tuesday: Juston Burris (hamstring), Antonio Callaway (ankle), T.J. Carrie (hamstring), Mik'Quan Deane (illness), Myles Garrett (illness), Ishmael Hyman (concussion), Kyle Kalis (concussion), D.J. Montgomery (hamstring), Brian Price (concussion), Chris Smith (personal), Sione Takitaki (hamstring) and Jermaine Whitehead (groin).

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