The practices and scrimmage that will be conducted between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills will take on a different tone in comparison to last year.
When the teams met at Edinboro University in 2001, the sessions were kept fairly simple. Both teams had first-year coaches, and both were in rebuilding stages.
With the teams having gone through the growing pains of last season, both coaches can be more creative with the offensive and defensive packages they use when the teams lock horns at the Bills' training site at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. Davis mentioned earlier this week that the offense is completely installed, something that wasn't the case last year until well into camp.
"This is a great chance to go in cold turkey and hit someone else and determine the growth and how much improvement we've made through the first couple weeks of camp," Davis said. "Hopefully, you want to see your rookies go against their best players. You want to watch the young defensive backs cover (Bills receiver) Eric Moulds as much as the starters. It's a great way to sharpen skills and measure yourself against some very good players."
Davis and Bills coach Gregg Williams planned to meet tonight to finalize plans for sessions. The scrimmage will consist of five, 12-play possessions. The first units will square off on the first and third possessions, with the second units going at it on the second series. The coaches will mix in players from various levels on the depth chart for the final two possessions.
Davis hopes the Browns will leave feeling as good about themselves as was the case last year.
"When we left last year we felt we had made strides as a football team," Davis said. "We want to leave Rochester with the same feeling."
TAKE NOTICE: Davis issued notice to the tight ends to pick up their performances.
"We need continued improvement from the tight ends," Davis said. "Mark Campbell, Rickey Dudley and guys like that have to step up and become a big part of the passing attack."
Davis and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians have planned to make extensive use of two tight ends, but Dudley suffered a season-ending foot injury in week five of last season. Campbell never saw a minute of time in the regular season after going down with a knee injury early in training camp.
Both players are healthy this year.
"We'll have to change the offense if we don't get good, solid performances from those guys," Davis said. "Every team I've been with going back to Dallas (has had a good tight end). Every coach on our staff has been around places where you need those guys to make plays.
"The tight end is a great asset for a quarterback. I can't tell the people in Cleveland any better because they probably had the best player to play the position in Ozzie Newsome."
Campbell is ready to step up the challenge.
"Buffalo is always going to be one of the tough defenses in the league," Campbell said. "We went out there last year and it was pretty much vanilla. I'm sure you're not going to see the full packages, but it will be more than what you saw last year."
STAYING FIT: The work of the training staff in keeping the players hydrated has paid dividends. Davis noted that only one player has had to receive an IV to pump up his fluid level. Davis also said that no player has reported a daily weight loss of more than 10 pounds.
WATCH OUT: There have been no fights among Browns players to date, which is strange at a time when tempers can flare under the intense summer heat. That could change when the players begin hitting players from another team. < p>
"In a competitive situation, there could be a flare up," Davis said. "There was one last year and it got back under control."
Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon got into a physical confrontation with Bills offensive lineman Reuben Brown. Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren then made a favorable first impression on his teammates when he barged into the middle of the fray.