BEREA, Ohio — It was real, live football — shoulder pad to shoulder pad, whistle to whistle.
As new Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine promised, Thursday’s training camp practice featured a period of live tackling early in practice. Later, both the first and second units went full-go in a goal line drill that featured some big hits, the biggest when safety Tashaun Gipson came over to smack tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, breaking up what would have been a touchdown pass from Johnny Manziel.
"I saw some bodies flying around, flying over the top," Pettine said. "Goal line, that’s a mentality. Defense has to take that mentality of, ‘They’re not in there until they’re in there,’ and the offense has to be in the mindset that, ‘We’re this close, this isn’t a four-point swing. We’ve got to get a touchdown."
The first offense scored twice on running plays, once by Ben Tate and once by Terrance West. Two Brian Hoyer passes were incomplete.
Manziel threw an easy touchdown to Jim Dray on a play-action bootleg on his first play with the second unit.
Of Gipson’s big hit, Pettine said: "Anytime we’re in a live situation and it’s tackle football we want our guys to get it ramped up. We still want to be smart and we’re not taking cheap shots at our own guys, but it’s football — a tough sport for tough people."
Pettine has been stressing the ability to finish, games and plays, so the competitive situation of Thursday was a three-play set at the goal line with the offense needing a touchdown to win.
The defense got a stop and will again wear orange practice jerseys — Pettine’s chosen reward — on Friday.
"That’s a lesson that our guys need to learn on both sides, that it doesn’t matter (what happens early on)," he said. "I don’t know what the percentages are, but how many games are decided by eight points or less and how many games truly come down to the end of the fourth quarter? That’s something that we’re going to try to simulate that as best as we can in practice."
Thursday’s tackling was a one-time deal. Pettine said that past Saturday’s scrimmage, the Browns aren’t likely to have another full-go, full-contact period in camp, adding that if they do it likely wouldn’t be full, to-the-ground tackling.