Browns coach Hue Jackson assembled his team last night following a mandatory day off and laid out the expectations. For him, the team's final session before that brief respite wasn't up to par. And Jackson, who enters his third season, let everyone know it wasn't OK.
"There's a certain level that I want our team to achieve every day," he said. "Every day we have to keep getting a little bit better."
Jackson said Cleveland's players and coaches rose to the occasion Tuesday on an afternoon that ended in thunderstorms and pouring rain.
With the preseason opener against the Giants in New York looming, Jackson and the coaching staff are in the process of determining who will play how much Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.
It also marks the first time Cleveland's new-and-improved roster makes its debut following an offseason overhaul in which the Browns added veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and high-profile rookies Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward.
"The goal is to go and evaluate our football team," he said. "I think we all know that's what we are trying to do."
— For starters, Jackson said the Taylor will start the game, Mayfield will see considerable playing time and "we'll make a decision around the fourth quarter on who else is playing and kind of go from there." Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, could play at least two quarters. Taylor, who was traded to Cleveland after three seasons with Buffalo, was named the starter in March. It's unclear how much veteran Drew Stanton and undrafted rookie Brogan Roback will play.
— After moving from left guard to left tackle, Joel Bitonio continues to look like a natural at his new position. As he continues to face off against Myles Garrett on a daily basis, Jackson said he won't give Bitonio, a Pro Bowl alternate in 2015, additional preseason reps Thursday.
"I think if you watch who he practices against every day, he's getting a lot of reps, a lot of different ways," he said. "I just think we have to continue to work it, because I do not plan on giving him anymore reps. This guy is a starter, has played in this league and knows what to do."
— Along those lines, Jackson wants to see the first-team offense build chemistry and move the ball Thursday, scripting an undisclosed number of plays before pulling the group from action.
"I need them to be out there together and experience some things," he said. The same goes for the defense, a group that stands to make a big jump in 2018 with second-year defensive end Myles Garrett, linebacker Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, new free safety Damarious Randall, strong safety Jabrill Peppers and a score of promising young players.
— Speaking of Peppers, the second-year player and former first-round pick recorded two interceptions at practice. Now, Jackson hopes he can do that in a game. "Make those plays and get the ball from the other team," he said.
— Fullback Danny Vitale did not practice after suffering a calf injury Monday.