ROCKY RIVER —** The new energy in Berea that's been buzzed about for the last four months is no accident.
Browns coach Hue Jackson — whom players and fellow coaches say has been responsible for many of those good vibes — made that clear Thursday afternoon while speaking at the Cleveland Browns Foundation's annual golf tournament.
"I think our players can sense it and feel it, that there's a different excitement," Jackson said. "It's real and it's genuine."
And now we understand why.
"It's because of hard work," Jackson said. "Our guys have worked extremely hard over these last eight practices to give us an opportunity to understand, first and foremost, what it's going to take to win. We all understand that it means nothing right now, but we have to lay the foundation and I think our players have done that. We have a minicamp that's coming up next week and I think our guys are excited about it."
Indeed, Jackson's comments come as the Browns close their third and final week of OTAs, a series of practices he described as a time of growth and development.
"I think we're starting to get it," Jackson said Wednesday after practice.
At the golf outing, he stressed the importance of Cleveland taking the next step with a mandatory veteran minicamp set for next week and, eventually, training camp later this summer.
"I think it's very important that we continue to move forward. And truly, what we're really all about is winning at the end of the day. I came here for one reason: I expect to win. And our players expect to win," Jackson said.
"And in order to do that, we have to understand that we have to work to win. And our coaches truly get that we have to create an environment for these men to be all they can be. And I'm going to ask our players to be as good as they can be each and every day. That's what we chase each and every day. There's no other way to do this. There's no shortcuts to doing what we're trying to accomplish."
The Browns took to the practice fields for their final offseason training activity of 2016 before next week's minicamp.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who also spoke Thursday, outlined what he's seen out of the team this winter and spring.
"I can say this, I've never seen a group of men work harder or more efficiently and really get into and really coach on the field like this group has and as tired as our players are after practice our coaches are equally as tired and that means a lot. And that will pay off over time," he said.
The Browns, who wrapped up the final two days of OTAs early to take part in community events such as the golf tournament and a groundbreaking at James F. Rhodes field Friday morning, will get back to work Monday.
"You have to have a plan and a vision," Jackson said, "and I think we're well on our way."