Road Trip: Browns off to Indiana for joint practices with Colts

2018 playoff team, 2019 playoff hopeful square off prior to preseason game

Daryl Ruiter
August 13, 2019 - 3:37 pm

Berea, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Freddie Kitchens is taking his team on a road trip this week, but it’s hardly a vacation.

They’re off to Indiana where they’ll meet up with the Indianapolis Colts for joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday in advance of their preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday afternoon.

“Wednesday and Thursday are not going to make or break our season, but it is going to give us a little barometer of where we are at from a physical standpoint,” Kitchens said on Monday.

Kitchens has had his team in pads for 11 of the 14 camp practices to date to prepare his team for the upcoming season full of expectations.

Now he gets to add another wrinkle to practice – a live opponent.  

“I want to see how we react to going on the road for the first time,” Kitchens said. “It is just simply you are sleeping in a hotel in a different city, you are playing against different people and you are practicing against different people. Just that aspect in itself can go a long way to giving you practice when we travel. We travel the second game of the year.

“Everything surrounding it, I do not have any problem with the competition. I think the competition is going to be there. If it is not, we have some of the wrong people.”

Receiver Jarvis Landry is no stranger to joint practices. He participated in his fair share of them with the Miami Dolphins.

“Obviously, it is always good to go against an opponent, somebody different than the guys you see,” Landry said. “A lot of NFL receivers, the [Browns] DBs know our routes, our splits and stuff like that so it is good to go against the people that have not seen it before and be able to execute. It is good. They were playoff contenders too last year so it will be good.”

The Colts are coming off a 10-6 Wild Card campaign that saw them beat Houston in the opening round before falling to Kansas City in the divisional round while the Browns are expected to be in that position this year.

There will be plenty of hype when these two teams take the field and Kitchens sees that as a good thing for his team.

“What I am looking forward to is how do we respond to distractions,” Kitchens said. “You guys have built several distractions. Do not take offense, goodness. You understand what I am saying. Everybody wants to talk about distractions and expectations. Well hell, let’s see how we do under some distractions.”

The goal is to compete and come out healthy.

“Obviously, we are going over there to compete, to take care of each other, to take care of both sides, their guys and our guys, but we are coming to compete,” Landry said.

In Berea, Kitchens stresses practicing hard but also taking care of each other and that is not expected to change when they get to Westfield, Indiana where the Colts hold their training camp.

“It’s a little different because you don’t know how they’re going to — at least for me, we’re protecting each other,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “I’m not going to bend my guy back. He’s not going to bend me. You don’t know what the Colts are going to do. You have to get a feel for it.

“But it’s exciting. We get to see where we are. They’re a good playoff team from a year ago.”

One of the concerns with joint practices are the fights, which seem inevitable.

Bitonio remembers the Browns’ trip to Rochester, New York when Mike Pettine was head coach and the practices against the Bills, which saw as much action after the whistles as before them.

“There were a ton of fights and we didn’t get as much practice time as we wanted to,” Bitonio said.

Kitchens has made it clear fighting won’t be tolerated in camp, and it’s not going to be this week either.  

“You saw what happened last time,” Kitchens said. “It does not matter to me. Whatever they want to do. We do not practice penalties so if we start practicing penalties, there are consequences.”