The Browns held their seventh full-squad practice of training camp today. Here are some highlights:
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III walked onto the practice field this morning amid cheers from fans to watch the action with his father, wife, Dee, President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert.
Haslam reached an agreement Thursday to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner. The sale for reportedly more than $1 billion still must be reviewed by the NFL’s finance committee and approved by 75 percent of the league’s owners. He also must divest his minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers for the purchase to become official.
Still, the Browns are essentially Haslam’s team. He will hold his introductory news conference at 1 p.m. today, a couple of hours after he left the practice field in a Browns T-shirt and shorts.
Coach Pat Shurmur met with the Haslams before practice, and he stopped to talk to them on the field.
“I had a chance to meet the Haslams, and it was brief,” Shurmur said today after practice. … “When you get to know the Haslams, you’re gonna find them to be very passionate people, very excited to own the Cleveland Browns, and it’s gonna be a great mix for our team, our fan base and the city. … I saw passion in their faces. I felt passion in their handshakes.”
Quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy and running back Trent Richardson had brief conversations with them, too. Haslam did not address the entire team before practice.
“He seemed really nice,” McCoy said. “His wife was out here, his dad was here. Seemed like a great family. I think it’s a great thing.”
Haslam’s arrival could foreshadow major changes for the organization. Former Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner is reportedly a part of Haslam’s group. Clark Judge of CBSSports.com reported last night that two league sources said Holmgren and Heckert would likely be ousted.
Heckert spoke to reporters briefly after practice and said he’s not concerned about his future.
“The whole family seems great,” Heckert said of the Haslams. “I enjoyed talking with them. We’re gonna spend a lot more time today and we’ll see. They seem anxious, and excited and they are, too.”
Weeden performed well during his first practice in from of the new owner. He completed several touchdown passes in red-zone drills. He redeemed himself after cornerback Joe Haden intercepted on of his passes, connecting with wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for two touchdowns and wide receiver Greg Little for another.
“First impressions are pretty important,” Weeden said. … “I’m so wrapped up in what we’re doing, I kind of get tunnel vision. But, yeah, I got a chance to meet him, his wife, his father, and I congratulated him. They said they’re excited to be on board. That’s about the extent of it. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to meet with him more as we go. I mean we knew he was there, but we just wanted to get better. I think today, offensively, we got better.”
Shurmur said Weeden has excelled during the past two practices.
“The more you work with guys, the better you get a feel for one another, and I think that’s starting to show ‘cause he’s not throwing the ball any better or any worse,” Shurmur said. “He’s just getting used to the guys he’s playing with, and I think it’s showed up the last couple of days.”
Haden finished with two interceptions. In addition to picking off the pass from Weeden in an 11-on-11 session, he intercepted a pass from quarterback Seneca Wallace in a drill pitting wide receivers against defensive backs.
“I just was in the zone,” Haden said. “I told the boys before practice today just play every play like it’s a game. Sometimes you get out there at corner and you get a little lazy. They start running the ball a lot. They start throwing it away from you. So I told everybody just come in here and play every play like it’s a game rep, and then that’s what I did. It worked.”
Defensive tackle Scott Paxson left practice early because he wasn't feeling well, a team spokesman said. Shurmur said Paxson will return Saturday. Rookie Billy Winn worked with the first-team defense in Paxson’s absence. Paxson has been filling in for defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who’s out with a torn pectoral muscle, since camp started last week.
Shurmur has complimented Winn for his quickness since the Browns drafted him in the sixth round in April.
“I think it’s important in the run game, too, because when you have quickness of course you have to always defeat the block, address your gap and then separate and find the ball,” Shurmur said. “So that quickness allows [defensive linemen] to do those things as well in the run game.”
Kicker Jeff Wolfert (undisclosed), free safety Usama Young (undisclosed), defensive lineman Brian Schaefering (undisclosed), defensive end Frostee Rucker (undisclosed), fullback Eddie Williams (undisclosed), wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (leg) and Taylor (pectoral muscle) were sidelined today.