By Fred Goodall
AP Sports Writer
TAMPA, Fla. — Hue Jackson is looking for any edge he can get to turn the Cleveland Browns into winners.
The first-year coach welcomed an opportunity to bring his team to Florida for a pair of joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, figuring it’s not only helpful work leading into a preseason game between the clubs, but also could prove beneficial when the Browns visit the Sunshine State again next month.
“It is a little hot, it is a little humid, and I’m glad that it is,” Jackson said Tuesday. “The hotter the better because that’s the way it is going to be as we start during the (regular) season against Miami.”
The teams will share the practice fields at One Buccaneer Place again Wednesday, then face each other in a nationally televised exhibition Friday night.
Jackson wants to gauge the Browns’ response to the unusual training camp routine. The Bucs already have experience with the uncommon structure after spending most of last week in Jacksonville for joint workouts before playing the Jaguars.
Jackson hopes the trip will help his players bond before they play five of their first seven regular season games on the road.
“We are going to meet with them, obviously, but I’m also going to give them a chance to be around each other a little bit more in a different setting,” he said. “That’s important, too, because we need to know how to handle this.”
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay’s first-year coach, said the Bucs are benefiting from extra work against players, as well as offensive and defensive schemes, they don’t face in practice every day.
“Cleveland is a 3-4 defense, and we’re going to see like eight 3-4 teams over the course of the year, so two extra days of working against a 3-4 are huge,” Koetter said.
“And then they’re a zone-read team on offense. … We need to see zone-read for down the road when we play teams like San Francisco and Seattle and Carolina,” he added. “Each team is a little bit different, but just playing and working against different guys is good.”
Tampa Bay’s revamped secondary, featuring free agent acquisition Brent Grimes and first-round draft pick Vernon Hargreaves III, is being tested this week by a talented group of Cleveland receivers led by Josh Gordon and Terrelle Pryor.
Gordon sat out all of last season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and figures to make his preseason debut on Friday night. He is not eligible to play in the regular season until Week 5 against the New England Patriots.
“It’d be great,” Gordon said. “I’m working the kinks out here at practice and back at home in Cleveland as much as possible to get ready for it. … Hopefully, I can pick up where we left off.”
Gordon said he’s excited about the prospect of being part of an offense featuring him, Pryor and first-round draft pick Corey Coleman, the former Baylor receiver who’s been slowed by a left hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Gordon shrugged off questions about reports that some teams have expressed interest in a potential trade but that the Browns are not interested in moving him.
“I really can’t comment on that. I’m not really sure. I haven’t heard too much about it,” the receiver said. “Cleveland is my team. That is where I want to be. … That’s not even in the ballpark for me. I’m not really sure how that works.”