Browns open camp under Chudzinski with optimism

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm •  Published: July 25, 2013
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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — As he left the field, Rob Chudzinski looked at the smiling, young fans cheering from the sideline bleachers.

Once upon a summer, he was one of them.

Chudzinski, who grew up a die-hard Browns fan and ate a few dog biscuits in his time, heard some barks, so he pumped his fist and called for more. He then slapped a few hands and later returned to sign autographs.

His first training camp practice as Cleveland's coach couldn't have gone any better.

"It was awesome," Chudzinski said, "just looking out and seeing some of those young faces out there with their Browns jerseys on and knowing how much that meant to me and I'm sure how much it means to them. That's the kind of excitement we want out here at practice and we want to generate. Our fans deserve it and we plan on giving it to them."

One year after they opened camp with the stunning news that the franchise was being sold, the Browns were able to concentrate on football.

On a cloudless day, quarterback Brandon Weeden looked sharp while whistling passes. Running back Trent Richardson, lighter and healthier than he's been as a pro, darted quickly around the field to the approval of Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who is back as an adviser with the team.

There was even a fight involving Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

"Joe was in there somewhere," Chudzinski said. "I don't know if he started on top and ended up on the bottom or not. I was in the melee there, too. It's training camp. Energy's high."

So is optimism.

Just like every NFL team in July, the Browns feel good about their chances to contend this season. But until like last year, when the announcement that Randy Lerner was selling the team to Jimmy Haslam rocked the organization to its core, contributed to a 5-11 record and led to another front office overall, there is a genuine belief that this season could be different.

"This year, this team has so much steam going forward," said Weeden, who is hoping to build off an inconsistent rookie campaign. "We feel like we were so much better than our record last year. We have a good football team and we're just chomping at the bit to get started again."

Chudzinski's presence has accounted for much of the good vibrations. This is his second go-round with the Browns after serving as their offensive coordinator for two seasons. Chudzinski has his dream job and his passion has already made an impact on his players.

"Chud is doing everything possible to be successful, and not to say that every other guy didn't, it's just he's a people's guy," said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. "He talks to everyone. He asks our opinion. He wants to know, 'how can things get better?' And that's pretty impressive. A lot of guys come in and they want to do it their way or no way.

"But he's a guy who is willing to take any opinions and he listens to you. He's giving us that trust, so in return we have to not let him down."

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