Browns DBs wear boxing gloves to combat rule changes

The Browns aren’t getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

With referees expected to emphasize defensive holding this season, Cleveland’s defensive backs are donning boxing gloves during training camp drills. The unorthodox method, coach Mike Pettine explains, prevents them from grabbing onto receivers’ jerseys and arms.

“You’ve got to get guys out of that habit,” Pettine said, via “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.”

The defensive-minded Pettine, in his first year on the job, will have his cornerbacks playing a lot of press coverage, increasing the likelihood of holding and illegal contact penalties.

Joe Haden, the Browns’ All-Pro corner, was taken back by the gloves — he called them “crazy” — but is willing to adapt.

“The thing is we’ve got to take the coaching that they’re giving us right now to just make sure we do our work in the first five yards,” Haden said.

That defensive backs will be targeted is arguably due to the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary, which plays extremely physical at the line of scrimmage — too physical if you ask some. The NFL is a copycat league and its officials don’t want Seattle’s slippery-slope blueprint to become the norm.

Should boxing gloves become the trick to limiting penalties, however, more teams will venture out of the box for similar solutions.

(Photo via

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Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports,,, and Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (