BEREA, Ohio — Joe Haden’s odd training camp of discontent continued Wednesday.
On the last day of camp, Haden was tossed off the practice field by coach Pat Shurmur for being too rough.
Haden’s ejection included an in-your-face discussion with Shurmur that had the coach using expletives.
“I’m not gonna talk about it,” Shurmur said when practice ended.
He pointed out he respected Haden, then added: “If you want details, you’re going to have to find it on Twitter.”
He then apologized that fans were subjected to profanity.
When a followup question was asked, Shurmur barked: “Don’t ask.”
“That’s between me and the player,” he said. “Joe’s a great competitor and I appreciate what he does and who he is. I’m not talking about it anymore. You’ll have to go somewhere else to find out.”
At about the same time, team president Mike Holmgren told Sports Time Ohio that Haden had been tossed for overaggressiveness in practice and that Haden had been warned to tone it down.
Haden’s sin: He dragged rookie Travis Benjamin to the ground after a touchdown catch when the players were not practicing in pads.
While it might sound silly that a coach got upset about a player being physical, it’s the new rage in the NFL not to hit or knock guys to the ground in practice. Coaches want to avoid injury, and they see limiting hitting as a way to help.
“I think it’s important that we practice smart,” Shurmur said. “You have to be able to practice at game speed (without tackling). I want all of our guys to make it to the horse race. Everything I do, all my thoughts, revolve around our players and our team. I told the guys that.”
Haden’s teammates shrugged it off.
“Boys will be boys,” wide receiver/return specialist Josh Cribbs said. “It’s football. That’s the nature of football, and we love it. They hug and they make up and it’s no problem. Boys will be boys, and coaches will be coaches. (Shurmur) had to defuse the situation. We have to give Coach our all, and Joe does that, as well.”
Such incidents come and go with many teams, as training camp sometimes leads to scuffles. After the team’s late afternoon walk-through, Shurmur approached reporters and said he had talked to Haden and called the incident a “dead issue.”
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor and wide receiver Antonio Brown got a lecture from general manager Kevin Colbert after they came to blows in practice last week. The two then went out and scored touchdowns in the next preseason game.
It’s rare, though, that a head coach gets involved, as Shurmur did.
Haden is reportedly facing a four-game suspension from the league for testing positive in the offseason for Adderall, a stimulant on the league’s banned list.
The Browns have not heard anything about a suspension for Haden, and they are not allowed to comment on it.
Haden has not denied the report, saying only it was a “league matter.” He has continued camp activities and performed well.
Presumably Wednesday’s “discussion” was not an Adderall-addled event, but when a player faces a possibile suspension, anything he does draws a little more attention. Especially since Haden has made himself into a self-styled celebrity in win-starved Cleveland.
When camp ended Wednesday, many of the Browns went immediately to the fans to sign autographs, which they did for an extended time. But Haden, one of the team’s more popular players, did not participate.
Thus did the Browns training camp come to a conclusion.