The Cleveland Browns are trending in the world of football during training camp after the first episode of this season’s HBO series “Hard Knocks” aired last week. The team has grabbed the attention of many in what appears to be the transition of a winless franchise to a possible contender.
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Veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey was one of the players featured in episode No. 1. He’s a firm believer this year’s team could be something special.
“I don’t think we know the potential we have just yet,” Kirksey said at training camp on Sunday. “We have a lot of talent and being here for a while, you can see the amount of playmaking ability we have, and we don’t know it yet, which is a good thing. We’re still trying to find our identity, but I feel the sky is the limit for us.”
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Kirksey, entering his fifth season, has been in Cleveland for some tough times. Losing is one thing but nothing can prepare you for a 1-31 record in a two-year span.
The linebacker insists the disappointments will make the team stronger.
“Whenever you go through something like that you learn more about your teammates and yourself,” he said. “There’s no quit in the guys on this team. A lot of players didn’t experience the losses. Tyrod (Taylor) and Jarvis (Landry). Those guys weren’t here to be a part of that winless team, but they’re guys with chips on their shoulders regardless.
“Just adding pieces to the squad the way we did put everyone on the same page with the same type of attitude. I respect that. I never want to have that bad feeling in the locker room ever again. We’re going to use the past as fuel.”
Kirksey is one of the leaders on defense and doesn’t take his role lightly. He’s vocal when necessary but usually lets his play speak for him. He finished second on the team in tackles with 86 last season, one behind linebacker Joe Schobert. But there is no doubt Kirksey sets the tone on defense.
“It’s all about knowing your players,” he said. “I get a joy out of seeing players go as hard as they possibly can because I’m trying to do the same thing and lead by example. Coach (Gregg) Williams is intense and brings out the best in players on defense. He demands greatness.
“As a leader, you want to demand the same thing. When the coach gives you free will to talk to your players you want to let your personality show. That’s how you create chemistry with one focus in mind, winning.”
In the Hard Knocks episode, Kirksey asked his teammates to write down their WHY in terms of commitment to the team. He had his own WHY after a productive day of practice in training camp.
WHY not the Browns?