Mangini: Browns not overworked
BEREA, Ohio -- As Jamal Lewis backtracked on his stinging comments directed at Cleveland coach Eric Mangini for overworking his players, several of the Browns gathered near the running back's locker. One of them even stood on a nearby chair.
Soon, the Browns began a chant.
"J-Lew, J-Lew, J-Lew," they hollered.
One day after Lewis' anti-Mangini rant, he was being hailed as a hero.
Maybe because he stood up to his coach.
On Friday, Mangini defended the length and intensity of his practices after Lewis had complained that Cleveland's players are being worked too hard.
Lewis asserted on Thursday that Mangini was wearing out his players during the week with 2½- to 3-hour workouts, and that by the time kickoff rolls around on Sunday, they have nothing left. Mangini maintains his practices are not any longer or more physical than ones he's conducted in the past.
"I feel good about the way we practice, the time we practice," said Mangini, 1-7 in his first season with Cleveland. "Two hours of work on the field is a very reasonable time. The only time that practices are extended is if we don't execute something the right way."
Mangini said that he and Lewis, a team captain, had a "good conversation" on Thursday and discussed their differences. Mangini did not provide any details of their meeting and said he does not view Lewis' comments as detrimental conduct.
"Like with any conversation, sometimes you agree on things, sometimes you change some things, sometimes you agree to disagree," he said. "You appreciate everybody's perspective and input and then you make the decision that you think is best for the team."
Mangini stressed that his workouts are rarely longer than two hours -- with a 30-minute walkthrough.
"For the record, it's two hours," he said with emphasis. "That's the facts. That's the reality of it. It's two hours a day. Less on Friday."
Following Friday's workout, Lewis said he appreciated the chance to meet with Mangini. Then, as he has done in the past, Lewis said the media had twisted his comments.
"We got a chance to talk and exchange ideas and everything and get a view of what he's trying to accomplish and what's going on," the 10-year veteran said. "Basically got a chance to talk and settle things out. I let him know that your guys' story was kind of blown out of proportion and it was worded and went in a certain way. But that's how the media is."
During his rant on Thursday, Lewis said Mangini was pushing his players too hard.
"You can work as hard as you want," he said. "You can work all day, seven days a week all the way up to Sunday in practice. But at the same time, if you're going to work like that, then maybe on Sunday you're probably not going to get what you want out of your players."
Mangini doesn't feel his players are beat up by game time.
"Some of the things that have happened on game days are things that we can control by protecting the football better, by communicating better, by all those different things that you try to improve week in and week out," he said. "In terms of volume of practice, it's significantly less than my first year in New York and we went 10-6 there."
Lewis said he and Mangini attempted to work through their differences.
"We talked and he told me why we do the things that we do and what he's looking for and basically my job is to come out here and lead by example and help everybody out," he said.
Lewis' comments on Thursday came a few hours before Browns practice squad player, defensive end Keith Grennan, sustained a serious knee injury during a post-practice "opportunity period." Mangini confirmed Grennan's injury but did not specify its nature or severity.
Grennan is the second Browns player injured during the post-practice drills. Earlier this season, rookie running back James Davis suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during one such workout.
Mangini defended the sessions as a chance for players to get more repetitions. He cited linebacker Marcus Benard, signed from the practice squad this week, as an "opportunity period" success story. Mangini said the voluntary sessions were also held when he coached under Bill Belichick in New England, where it helped a young Tom Brady develop as a quarterback.
"I believe in this fundamentally," Mangini said. "Over time, so many guys have benefited from it. I think it increases the possibility of success."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press