Browns coach Pat Shurmur removed cornerback Joe Haden this morning from the final practice of training camp open to the public for being too rough, President Mike Holmgren said.
Haden later participated the team's afternoon walk-through session.
"Joe and I talked," Shurmur said after the walk through. "Everything's fine. It's a dead issue."
As Haden tried to break up a touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden to wide receiver Travis Benjamin during the morning practice, he swiped at the ball with his left hand, grabbed the back of Benjamin's jersey with his right hand and pulled him down to the ground. Neither player was injured during the play.
(Here's a video of the play via Cleveland.com.)
After a heated exchange of words with Shurmur, Haden ran off the field shortly before 10 a.m. today. Practice wrapped up at about 10:30 a.m.
"[Camp is] a long time for a bunch of men to be together and seeing one another," cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "Things happen and it is what it is. They are two grown men and they’ll handle it.
"I’m sure there are two brothers right now kicking one another’s butt in somebody’s house. I would think that right there speaks volumes of both guys, how competitive each one of them is, and you want that. You don’t want people out here just going through the motions."
In his post-practice news conference, Shurmur declined to provide a reason for ordering Haden’s removal. Shurmur also said he hasn’t heard any updates about Haden’s possible four-game suspension from the NFL for reportedly failing a drug test in the offseason.
“I'm not going to talk about it,” Shurmur said of ordering Haden’s removal from practice. “That's between me and the player. I have a great deal of respect for Joe. If you want details, you're going to have to find it on Twitter, all right? My only apology is that I used bad language and the fans were here to see it. That's between me and the player. Joe's a great competitor and I appreciate what he does and who he is, and that's the last you'll hear me talk about it.”
However, Holmgren told SportsTime Ohio that Haden was thrown out for being too rough.
Interview requests for Haden were denied.
“From a defensive standpoint, us guys are gonna compete, and it’s two guys competing for the ball,” middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “We want to keep every guy up, keep guys healthy, and sometimes those things happen and sometimes tempers flare. It’s day 21 in camp. Everybody’s running on fumes, not getting enough sleep. So you know it happens, and once we leave the football field and head into the building, it’s all over with.”
The Browns have been riddled with injuries during camp. Thirteen players sat out today.
Benjamin suffered an undisclosed injury Aug. 10 in the Browns’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions. He missed three practices and the Browns’ exhibition game Aug. 16 against the Green Bay Packers before returning to action Friday.
“I think it's important that we practice smart,” Shurmur said. “That's what is important. I think that you have to be able to practice at game speed, and you win and lose in practice. I think it's important that guys understand that. I want all of our guys to make it to the horse race, and safety, everything I do is think about these players and this team. All my thoughts revolve around our players and our team. I think it's very, very important that we practice fast and we're smart.”
Jackson said it’s not unusual for drama to unfold during camp, and he believes Shurmur and Haden will patch up their differences.
“I think they both realize after they settled down it was a little bit overboard,” Jackson said. “But things happen and words were said, and once we get in the locker room, it’ll be over with.”
Wide receiver Josh Cribbs agreed.
"Boys will be boys," Cribbs said. "It's football. It's the nature of football. We love it. They will hug and make up, no problem.
"Head coach is the head coach. He has to defuse a situation. ... It's like players getting into fights in practice. They're in the locker room laughing, joking and singing songs together. It's the same with our coaches."
Still, camp certainly closed on a dysfunctional note.