On the eve of their first intrasquad scrimmage, the Browns had perhaps their most intense practice since opening training camp.
Thursday's session — a feisty one at which tempers occasionally flared — was a tone-setter as Cleveland prepares for its preseason opener against the Giants next week in New York.
"It's something that I totally believe in. You have to get that in practice. You have to build that foundation through training camp," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "Hopefully, it can sustain you during the season."
— Joel Bitonio expressed trepidation in moving from left guard to left tackle, but the veteran Browns offensive lineman sure looks like a natural. "He's competing his tail off. (Defensive end) Myles (Garrett) is bringing it," Jackson said. "That's the best look he can get every day. I think it is really fun to see, but Joel isn't giving up anything. It's a battle. He's doing well."
Cleveland moved Bitonio, widely considered one of the NFL's best interior linemen, to left tackle Wednesday after months of uncertainty at the position. Bitonio, a second-round pick in 2014, earned Pro Bowl alternate honors last season and has been the team's starter at left guard the past four years.
— Defensive tackle Trevon Coley left practice with an ankle injury. Coley started 15 games for the Browns last season, helping anchor the league's seventh-best run defense. It's unclear how much time — if any — he will miss.
— Jackson said the Browns' defense "dominated" the team's offense in a live tackling session. "They whooped them. That's just what it is," he said. "If I'm the offense, I'm mad, I'm going to go back and the next time that we have that period, I'm going to come back and show that we are there."
— Meanwhile, Jarvis Landry continued to do his thing in a goal-line drill, making a tough catch over cornerback E.J. Gaines in the back of the end zone. It's plenty clear why the wide receiver has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls.
— Right guard Kevin Zeitler did not practice with calf injury. Jackson said he expects the veteran to miss "a couple of weeks" after leaving Wednesday's session with an athletic trainer. Third-year lineman Spencer Drango took reps with the first-team offense in his place. "As you know the year before, he played at left guard the entire year so his versatility has shown itself since he has been here," Jackson said. "He's played left guard, he's played left tackle and he's been on the right side before so he's been all around. That is a comfort that we have. He has to continue to get better like the rest of our guys, but he is competing." Drango started 10 games at left tackle last season after the team lost Thomas to a season-ending triceps injury. In two seasons, Drango has played in all 32 games, starting 19.
— Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield continued what's been a strong camp thus far. The No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft had a pretty pass to Rashard Higgins that turned into a long touchdown during a two-minute drill. To be clear, Jackson said there's plenty Mayfield needs to work on. "He made some plays. We're going to watch the tape a lot closer. I think that there were a couple of situations where he could have thrown the ball in two minute that he has got to grow from," he said. "Those are the things that as a young player you have to make sure that we are coaching all of those details."
The Browns plan on sitting Mayfield this season behind veteran starter Tyrod Taylor, who had a pair of passes intercepted during team drills. One ball was tipped by Garrett and picked off by Damarious Randall while another was what Jackson described as an "outstanding" play by cornerback Terrance Mitchell. "That's exciting for me to see. I haven't seen us pick balls off like that," he said. "Those things, we do not want to see happen, but at the same time, I get to see the defense do something that I am excited to see. The tipped ball is going to happen every now and then. Tyrod is doing well. Just because those two balls went the other way, I am not going to put a damper on it."
— Tackle Greg Robinson (concussion) returned to practice and worked with Cleveland's third-team offense. Robinson, the second-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, is working to earn a spot on the 53-man roster after signing with the team in July.
— Wide receiver Jeff Janis (knee) also returned to practice. The former Packer signed with the team in free agency.