The NFL has instructed its officials to pay closer attention to defensive holding and illegal contact this season, a shift that many believe will lead to a flurry of flags in the early part of the season.
The Browns don’t want to make life any harder on themselves once the regular season rolls around, so they are working on ways to keep their defensive backs from grabbing hold of opposing receivers. Browns defensive backs are wearing boxing gloves during some drills at training camp so that they are unable to grab onto opponents and are therefore forced to come up with other ways to keep them from catching passes.
“You’ve got to get guys out of that habit,” coach Mike Pettine said, via Cleveland.com. “Instead of putting them in the full boxing gloves that I think would really slow their stride down, they’re more like sparring gloves … like a big mitten. The thumb can still come out. I just think it’s more the mentality that they know they have to be able to cover more with an open palm than grabbing and restricting, especially if the rule is going to be called as tightly as we’re told it is.”
Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett took offense to a referee’s suggestion that coaches would have to do different things in practice to prepare their players to play with the shifted emphasis this season. Pettine and the Browns are going another way in hopes of forcing offenses to beat them without the help of self-inflicted wounds.