Fred Greetham reports from Cleveland Browns training camp.
By FRED GREETHAMFS Ohio
BEREA—We’ve always been told that first impressions are those that last.
Hopefully, with the new ownership of the Browns, that could be a good thing.
Jimmy Haslam III, along with his wife Susan “Dee”, and father James II, observed their first practice of the franchise they’ve reportedly invested a $1 billion in. Haslam spent most of the practice standing with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert.
As Jimmy III walked off the field after practice, he said “Go Browns” to a couple of media members as he walked by.
“I had a chance to meet the Haslam’s briefly before practice,” Pat Shurmur said. “It’s a great mix for the team, the fan base and our city.
“I saw the passion in his face and felt passion in his handshake.”
The Browns appeared to have one of their best practices of training camp with players making plays, especially rookie quarterback and receivers Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi.
Massaquoi made a nice grab on a slant for a score from Weeden. A couple players later, Weeden threw a bullet well ahead of Greg Little, who left his feet and made a spectacular catch diving across the middle, much to the delight of the big crowd watching practice.
Shurmur was asked if he thought the players were trying to put a show on for the new owners.
“I think they’re excited to play,” he said. “But, I thought they were trying to put on a show for me.”
Some of the players made it a point to meet the new owner. One of those was Colt McCoy.
“I felt I wanted to go ahead and introduce myself to them,” McCoy said. “It speaks volumes to me that he brought his wife and father out (to practice). The Haslam’s seem like great people.”
Weeden was impressed, as well.
“First impressions are important,” Weeden said. “You can tell they’re a tight unit. We’re a family and it goes hand in hand.”
Montario Hardesty was a star at Tennessee, where the Haslam’s are huge supporters and benefactors of the Volunteers.
“As soon as I heard the news, I thought it’s all good,” Hardesty said. “But, I haven’t been really thinking a lot about that. My focus has been on getting better.”
Haslam hasn’t addressed the team formally, so some players haven’t met him.
“I haven’t had the pleasure yet,” Phil Dawson said. “It was nice to see them out (at practice) with his family.”
Dawson, who has been with the team since 1999 when the franchise launched under the Lerner family, has seen a lot during the time.
“It is definitely a new beginning,” Dawson said. “It’s a breath of fresh air. We’ll see. It’s all about those 16 games (on Sundays).”
Weeden Sparkles: QB
Brandon Weeden looked as though he had his best practice of training camp. He threw a touchdown pass to WR Mohamed Massaquoi early in practice and threw a dart to WR Greg Little for a big gain a bit later.
“All along he’s been working,” Shurmur said. “He’s been working with the guys he’s throwing to and he’s getting a feel for them.”
Weeden feels good about his progress.
“I thought today was a great day,” he said. “Those receives are great at going up and getting the ball.
“They get better every day and I think we’re growing better at getting them the ball.
“It’s nice to have guys like that as weapons.”
Weeden said he has benefitted from working against CB Joe Haden.
“Having a guy like Joe helps me,” Weeden said. “He got me early (with an interception) jumping the route. I asked him what he saw and what happened.”
Injury Update: DL Frostee Rucker (undisclosed), DL Brian Schaefering (thigh), WR Carlton Mitchell (leg), DB Usama Young (undisclosed) and DL Phil Taylor (pectoral) all sat out practice. DL Scott Paxson did not practice, but Shurmur said he would back to practice Saturday.