‘Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns is just days away from airing episode one on August 7. So how have the Browns coaches, players and front office staff handled the extra media attention after six days of training camp?
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 1, 2018
“Same way I feel about these cameras,” tight end David Njoku said before day six of training camp on Wednesday. “They are cameras. You just have to focus on your job, everything you have to do in practice and everything will take care of itself.”
“They do their job, but we have a job to do,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “We are not going to let this be a distraction to our football team.”
One guy who will certainly get his share of air time throughout the five episode series is linebacker Christian Kirksey. HBO cameras caught Kirksey interacting with fans on opening day of camp. Is this Kirksey being himself or showing off for the nation to see? Fellow linebacker Joe Schobert says its the latter, Kirksey disagrees.
“I am always going to be myself. With everything I do, wherever I am at, I am always going to be myself,” Kirksey said. “Schobert, he is a camera guy, too (laughter). They need to follow him around. I think that he is going to get into some acting after football is done.”
One reason the Browns were selected for the HBO series is 2018 is for the quarterback battle between number one pick Baker Mayfield and veteran Tyrod Taylor. The actual battle on the field has not been the topic of discussion between the quarterbacks. It has been the RV Mayfield had brought in for the quarterbacks to spend in during their down time. Fellow quarterback Drew Stanton asked the rookie to bring the RV to Berea.
“I definitely did not get on it right away because he told in the middle of OTAs,” Mayfield said. “It is a place where you can get away since you are up here all day. You do get one break right now between the walkthrough and practice so you have to be able to kind of relax a little bit and unwind before practice, whether it is looking over your scripts and doing it all over again, just getting your mind right. They have kind of a sleeping area for players. We just decided to make a little fun out of it and have something for us.”
“The RV started back in the spring when we had the rules committee for Baker on Day 1,” Stanton said. “One of them was that we needed to get an RV. It was an idea the (former Lions QB) Shaun Hill implemented with (Lions QB Matthew) Stafford when we were in Detroit. We did training camp at the facility. It is parked in the back. It is just some place that you can go, get out of these four walls that start to close in on you after a certain period of time. There are no secret meetings going on. It is not excluding anybody. Everybody is welcome. It is just a place to go unwind, get away from here for the time period that we have off. Nothing more and nothing less.”
“What RV? Not sure (laughter),” Taylor said. “It is just something for us to be able to get away. It is not anything special. You are making it a way bigger deal.”
The RV has since been replaced with a new RV before day six of training camp. Will viewers who tune in to ‘Hard Knocks’ get to see what exactly goes on inside? Nope. It’s for the quarterbacks and maybe they will let the head coach pay a visit.
— Tyrod Taylor (@TyrodTaylor) July 30, 2018
“He is welcome if he wants to,” Taylor said. “There is definitely a big deal being made of it, but it is just something for us to be able to relax and get away.”
“Anytime I want to go in, I am going in,” Jackson said. “That is my parking lot, so I am going in (laughter).”
Each year, ‘Hard Knocks’ tries to find a player or two to focus on and let the viewers become a huge fan of. So who could be that guy?
“Jamie Collins (Sr.) (laughter). No, I am totally joking,” Kirksey said. “We have a lot of good guys on the team. We have a lot of guys that have a lot of personality, David Njoku, Jabrill Peppers, those guys are full of energy. It is up to America to choose who they really want to follow.”
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) August 1, 2018
In addition to Mayfield, Taylor, Ward and Kirksey, other players who could get plenty of face time include wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) July 25, 2018
In the end, the Browns are treating the extra media attention in stride. The focus is still on improving and winning football games for the first time since 2016.
Scott Piker is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Browns.