October 24, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
38°F

Serving up bits, pieces from camp

By BRIAN DULIK

Staff Writer

Random thoughts from the bleachers at Browns training camp, where expectations are high for a good reason — Cleveland has a very good team:

No hype, no bull and no magic tricks are needed this season to make the Browns look like a legitimate playoff contender.

They’re loaded with big-play weapons, have a terrific offensive line, boast great special teams players, and possess enough talent in their defensive front seven to win close games.

As important, coach Romeo Crennel is respected and beloved by his players. They’ll do anything that “RAC” asks because they know he’s a winner, which is why the team made a remarkable turnaround last season.

The start of the regular season on Sept. 7 can’t come soon enough for anyone. …

With that said, it’s not out of the question that Cleveland could stumble out of the gate 0-2. Playing Dallas and Pittsburgh back-to-back is a difficult task in itself. Doing so on national television to start the season makes it even tougher. …

Going to a training camp practice might not be everyone’s cup of tea — heck, it’s not mine when the temperatures are above 75 — but it can be a fun family outing. It’s free, there is plenty of activity to see, and it’s close by in Berea.

Browns publicity director Ken Mather correctly calls the month-long event “the best value in sports” because it is the only place local fans can watch their athletic heroes in uniform up close and personal.

That is even truer for the evening half of two-a-day practices, which are typically less crowded because they fall shortly after rush hour from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The mood is more relaxed at these sessions, and players are usually more willing to sign autographs at their conclusion.

If you plan on making the short drive to 76 Lou Groza Blvd., though, please first call the training camp hotline at 877-6BROWNS (877-627-6967). Changes are rarely made in the practice slate, but thunderstorms do modify the schedule from time to time. …

There are a lot of half-baked theories in the NFL, but the idea that prime-time games throw off players’ internal body clocks might be the dumbest I’ve ever heard.

Athletes, like most members of the sports media, are nocturnal people by nature. Just ask any pro player in any sport if they would rather play their games at 1 p.m. or 10 p.m.

I have posed that question to many over the years, and their answer is almost unanimous: the later the better.

As Browns receiver Braylon Edwards put it this week, “That’s one of the reasons why I play football, to be on TV, under the lights.” …

The only night games that throw teams’ routines out of whack are those played on Thursday because it’s such a short turnaround from the previous weekend.

Cleveland has just one such contest — against Denver on Nov. 6 – but its affects have largely been negated by its previous and next games. The Browns host Baltimore on Nov. 2, then don’t play again until Nov. 17 at nearby Buffalo on Monday Night Football.

Dulik may be reached at brisports@hotmail.com or 330-721-4059.