Browns put on pads

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

BEREA (AP) -- Behind his stylish sunglasses, Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine stayed cool and showed little outward emotion on a day he had been looking forward to for months.

On the inside, Pettine was glowing.

The Browns practiced in full pads. Real football-- at last.

For the first time since training camp opened, the Browns weren't just running around the manicured fields behind their training headquarters in helmets, jerseys and shorts. They wore shoulder pads, thigh pads, hip pads, knee pads and whatever other protective padding NFL players decked out in these days.

Pettine was eager to "hear" practice, and afterward said he was satisfied with the popping, crunching, hard plastic-on-plastic sounds that also delighted another overflow crowd of Browns fans.

"I was pleased," Pettine said. "For the first day in pads, I thought our guys were solid. I thought they did a good job of taking care of each other."

Pettine had warned his players not to take things too far. During an inside running drill, he told his defensive players only to "thud" the running backs before turning them loose and allowing them to continue down field.

Several times, coaches yelled "Stay up!" as they reminded players to remain on their feet and off the ground.

Once, defensive back Johnson Bademosi got a little carried away and came up and blasted wide receiver Nate Burleson near the helmet after a reception, spinning his teammate around. Pettine quickly waved his hand under his chin, signaling for Bademosi to "cut it out" before someone got hurt.

"It's football, and sometimes, instincts just take over to kind of drop the shoulder, but we don't want to do that to each other," Pettine said. "That still falls to competitive not combative. That stuff's not going to help them make the team. We want to be tough. We want to be nasty, but we want to play within the rules, and we certainly want to protect each other when we're practicing."

Later this week, the Browns will replicate game conditions by allowing their defensive players to tackle runners to the ground.

Pettine wants the Browns to be tough, an essential characteristic for any team in the AFC North, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers, two of the league's most notoriously rough teams. And it's not as if the Cincinnati Bengals are lightweights either.

Pettine, a former defensive coordinator with the Jets and Bills, wants a team of tough guys -- not just a couple rugged characters. That's why the Browns will have a period of the inside running drill from here on out.

"It'll be let's line up and see who can play," Pettine said. "To me, it's the counterpart of when we do seven on seven. That's usually advantage offense -- clear pass rush, no throwing lanes -- whereas that inside drill should be advantage defense. It's more of a mentality thing. We want to come off. We want to block people. We want to get off blocks. We want to knock people back. If we want to establish that mentality, we have to do that drill."

Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby loves it.

Signed as a free agent in March, Dansby is Pettine's kind of player. He's big (6-foot-3, 251 pounds), experienced (11 years) and he's got the reputation of being a little mean. Pettine is hoping guys like Dansby and safety Donte Whitner, will give a certain "edge" to Cleveland's defense.

Dansby said it's difficult to teach players toughness. They either have it or they don't.

"It has to be in you for them jump," he said. "Whitner has it in him. (Rookie) Justin Gilbert definitely has it in him. He's a chippy guy and a like to see that in a young pup coming in like that. (Rookie) Chris Kirksey, he has it in him also. Some guys get it brought out of them. Certain situations on the field bring that dog out of them and you like to see that."

While Pettine was excited about the first day of full contact, not everyone shared his enthusiasm.

Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas wasn't so keen on combat.

"For everybody who's probably not a lineman, they love the first day of pads, fans, coaches, everybody," Thomas said. "Even in my eighth year, you got a little bit of butterflies in your stomach before you come out here because this is real football. If you mess up, somebody's going to get smacked."

MANZIEL'S DAY

BEREA -- A look at Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel's day at training camp.

GO, JOHNNY, GO: Manziel got a chance to show off his running ability as the Browns ran several read-option plays with him behind center. On several occasions, Manziel kept the ball, tucked it away and took off, displaying the quickness and elusiveness that made it tough to contain him at Texas A&M.

MISCUES: Manziel, who is trying to beat out Brian Hoyer to be Cleveland's starter, had a few plays he'd like to have back. He fumbled one snap in the shotgun, overthrew receivers on some out sideline patterns and threw an interception. While rolling out to his left, Manziel forced a throw toward rookie receiver Taylor Gabriel that was picked off by rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey.

PERFECT SONG: As Manziel guided the Browns down field in a two-minute drill late in practice, the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" blasted through speakers on the field. Manziel, whose escapades during the offseason brought him widespread criticism, ended the practice by lobbing a short touchdown pass to rookie fullback Ray Agnew.

JUDGING JOHNNY: Browns coach Mike Pettine said after looking at the tape of Sunday's practice he felt Hoyer had outperformed Manziel.

"Brian was sharper than he was the first day," Pettine said. "Manziel was inconsistent, did some good things and then probably did some things he would have taken back. I think that's just all part of it."

TALKING JOHNNY: Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said behind the scenes Manziel is very different from the Johnny Football persona one would expect.

"Johnny is kind of a quiet guy around the facility," Thomas said. "I'm sure it's hard for most people to believe that with the kind of personality that he's built up. But he's kind of quiet. He does things the right way. You look at his notebook and he's got all sorts of good notes. He sits in the front next to the coach and he's just focused on his job when he's here."

SUH'S CONTRACT

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season.

Suh is entering the final season of his contract, and team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew said before practice Monday that negotiations are being tabled. Lewand and Mayhew both expressed optimism that a deal can eventually be reached.

"He's told me he wants to be here. I have a good relationship with him," Mayhew said. "I know I want him to be here. I don't know what else to tell you."

Suh talked to reporters after practice, but he didn't want to discuss his contract situation.

"It won't be a distraction to me," Suh said. "I'm just out here playing football and having fun."

Lewand said Detroit's salary-cap situation isn't the reason for the delay in an agreement.

If the two sides can't reach a deal after the season, the Lions could still keep Suh by using their franchise tag on him.

"I wouldn't close the door on that," Mayhew said. "Every year, we have people concerned about our ability to function under the salary cap, and thus far we've been able to go out in free agency every year and add to our team, make our team better. ... I think the cap is going to go up next year, and probably the year after that too."

PEYTON'S DANCE

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peyton Manning isn't all business all the time. The star quarterback showed his lighter side Monday when he did a dorky dance during the team stretch when "Rocky Top" was blared through the loudspeakers at the Denver Broncos' training camp.

While Manning was dancing to the unofficial anthem of his Tennessee Volunteers, fellow alum Britton Colquitt joined in and Wes Welker even added a hoedown.

"I love it," said defensive end Malik Jackson, another former Vol. "They need to play it every day. 'Rocky Top' is awesome. Go Vols."

Every day the Broncos begin their stretch with music blaring from the loudspeakers.

"It was his day to pick the music so it wasn't a surprise to me what it was going to be," linebacker Von Miller said. "It was Peyton's day, so it was all good."

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