With the increase in defensive holding penalties in the preseason, Browns coach Mike Pettine expects more press coverage.


BEREA, Ohio -- The National Football League has told officials to emphasize defensive holding penalties during the preseason, and they did exactly that through the first two weeks of the exhibition schedule.

In their one-point losses to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Aug. 8, and in Washington at FedEx Field 10 days later, the Cleveland Browns have drawn multiple flags for the infractions, including three defensive holding calls in what turned out to be a game-winning touchdown drive by the Lions with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter.

After being whistled multiple times for defensive holding, Browns coach Mike Pettine is anxious to see how the penalty will be officiated in the regular season.

"I think the league is still in the process of trying to figure out how they want to call it," Pettine said. "We've had some interaction with the league office. We have our weekly routine where we send in plays and we get answers back.

"I don't want to go into the details of it, but we feel very comfortable about where we are with it based on the results coming back, what should've been called, what shouldn't have been called, and I think the whole league is very curious to see if it's going to drop off. Will it vary greatly by crew? How will it be?

"I know a lot of it's so subjective that we'll really have to pay attention to each individual crew and how they're calling it. Hopefully, it gets worked out sooner than later because I think everybody is a little anxious to see how that's going to play out."

Although anxious to see how defensive holding will be officiated in the regular season, Pettine does agree with the theory behind the violation. And he believes it could result in more press coverage from defensive backs.

"To me, press isn't necessarily the issue because if you're grabbing, it's a foul," Pettine said. "To me, there's no debating that. Any form of grab and restrict, that's definitely a foul. When you press, you've got to get hands on without grabbing.

"To me, you might see more press because of it because the penalties are occurring above five yards. If you're sitting off and trying to catch a guy or contact him at the top of his route, that's where you see a lot of the flags are thrown, at the top of the route, not within the first five yards."

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