The Cleveland Browns heard their head coach’s message loud and clear: don’t back down.
A day after head coach Freddie Kitchens challenged his team to show intensity in the joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts, the sessions reached a boiling point, which made a skirmish during the first day look like child’s play.
There were multiple incidents that spiked tensions between the squads during team drills on Thursday. The biggest scrap of the two-day affair involved linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong and multiple Colts players — premier among them Zaire Franklin — during a special teams drill. The teams called off the drill following the fracas.
After the practice, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. told reporters that Kitchens message wasn’t lost on the players.
“Message was received,” Beckham said. “We came here to impose our will the same way we would do in the regular season when it comes up.
“We’re not backing down from anybody and I love that mentality. That’s all I’ve ever known.”
Kitchens was happy with what he saw, joking that maybe he didn’t know just how scrappy the practice was with the Colts.
“There was, wasn’t there?” he said. “I told you guys yesterday, we are not into backing down from anything.
“We identified a problem yesterday, not that there was anything wrong with the tempo, but we set the tempo. Nobody else does. I think these guys learned that today.”
Colts-Browns Joint Practice Filled With Fights
The first scrap of the day featured wide receiver Brown pass-catcher Jaelen Strong, who snagged a pass from Baker Mayfield before the skirmish ensued. The Athletic’s Tom Reed described it as a “baseball-style bullpens and benches emptying get together.”
Zac Johnson of the Athletic said there were no punches thrown, but described the wild scene.
“Didn’t see any punches but the entire Browns offense sprinted down to the end of Jaelen Strong catch when the shoves started,” Johnson tweeted. “Felt like they were following some coaching on the issue.”
Johnson also noted that the feisty feeling was in the air at the facility early on in the day. He predicted there were going to be multiple fights, which turned out to be correct.
Johnson tweeted that the play after the skirmish, Malik Hooker took a shot at Browns guard Eric Kush and Ben Banogu went after Pharaoh Brown.
Later on, some words exchanged between between Browns rookie safety Sheldrick Redwine and Deon Cain turn into a fight between JT Hassell and Zach Pascal that reportedly needed multiple players to clear up.
There won’t likely be any video emerging from the incidents, as the Colts don’t allowing filming during 11-on-11 drills.
All of the action should set the stage for an interesting preseason game when the teams meet up on Saturday.
Browns Respond After Scrap With Colts at Joint Practice
The tone for the joint practices was set when Browns defensive back Tigie Sankoh and Colts running back D’Onta Foreman got into a skirmish on Wednesday.
Sankoh Foreman and Foreman got into a shoving match before some big punches were thrown, according to Tyler Kraft of IndyStar.
Sankoh responded on Twitter following the scrap, saying “for everyone sleeping on me. I got something for y’all believe that.”
Head Coach Freddie Kitchens Urges Browns to Stand up for Themselves
At the time of his post-practice media session on Wednesday, Kitchens was still gathering intel on what exactly happened between Sankoh and Foreman. However, he sounded firm that his players will stand up for themselves if needed.
“I just know that we are not going to take nothing from anybody,” Kitchens said. “At some point, you have to stand up for yourself. If it is a penalty then it is a penalty, but sometimes… I don’t know.”
The Browns had a fight of their own when the pads went on at training camp. Defensive end Chad Thomas got into an extended scuffle with tight end Pharaoh Brown before it was broken up and cooler heads prevailed.
While he doesn’t want to see fights, he knows his guys are going to do their thing and go to work.
“We are not going to get penalties against our own team when we are in Berea. We are not going to come in here and take anything either now,” Kitchens said. “There better not be a lot of fights, but we are going to line up and run here. They know that, and they have been told that. That is why they pay me to be the head coach. I will determine at that time.”