CLEVELAND— While Hue Jackson was impressed with much of what the Browns did during their scrimmage, there’s one thing that left him upset.
Cleveland’s first-team offense couldn’t run the football with much force on Friday.
“I didn’t like it,” Jackson said. “I’ll be the first to tell you, I didn’t like it.”
Isaiah Crowell didn’t like the ground game either, but he did like that the defense came to play.
“It was kind of frustrating out there today,” Crowell said. “It's just a lot of work to do, but our defense is a good defense and it's going to be ups and downs on offense and defense when we go against each other.”
For an offense that associate head coach Pep Hamilton described as “power-run based,” getting better on the ground is going to be a necessity if the Browns are going to reach their goals this season.
While Friday's showing wasn't good on the ground, Jackson has no doubt that things will turn around.
“We’ve got to become a gritty group up front and we’ve got to find a way to make the run game go,” Jackson said. “We will. I feel very confident about that.”
Though he was generally unimpressed with the rushing attack on Friday, Jackson has enjoyed what he’s seen thus far in camp from Crowell.
The third-year running back got off to a poor start by posting a disturbing illustration to his Instagram account, but has since been the subject of some high praise from Jackson and Hamilton.
“That brings confidence because it lets me know my coach believes in me,” Crowell said. I know I have what it takes and I'm looking forward to it.”
The 23-year-old came into camp in better shape this season, down to 214 pounds from around 220 a season ago, which he feels has helped him to get off to this quick start.
He thinks too that his vision has been better, as well as his blocking.
“Really just patience and just getting used to the game speed, that's the main thing,” Crowell said. “Pass protection, I feel like I've gotten better at pass protection.”
Working behind a revamped offensive line that will likely feature Cam Erving at center and a new starter at right tackle, Crowell is still getting used to the new group up front.
He knows that the linemen are still getting used to each other, which is why he’s not worried about the issues thus far.
“I feel like everything's coming together, slowly but surely,” Crowell said. “We're putting the pieces together.”
Much like Jackson, Crowell is confident in the ability of the Browns to run the football once the season starts. He’s watched the tape of Cincinnati’s two-back system and knows that he and Duke Johnson can put up similar numbers.
Friday’s scrimmage wasn’t the start that he wanted, but Crowell knows that the Browns are more than capable of becoming the ground-game group that the coaching staff wants them to be.
“I know what our potential is,” Crowell said. “I know what we have been doing the past days and what we will do in the future.”
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