BEREA: Football soothes Joe Haden because it allows him to escape his problems.
Unfortunately for the Browns, Haden won’t be permitted to use the gridiron as a haven for the next four weeks.
Haden has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Monday in a statement. The suspension, which went into effect immediately, will prohibit Haden from returning to the active roster until Oct. 8, the day after the Browns (0-1) play the New York Giants on the road.
Haden, the team’s best cornerback, compiled six tackles and an interception while playing all 95 snaps Sunday in the Browns’ 17-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He seemed to sense it might have been his last action for a while.
“It felt good,” Haden said in the locker room after the Browns’ season-opening defeat. “There’s nothing like playing football. That’s what I’ve been trained to do my whole life, and being out there with my teammates and [strong safety] T.J. [Ward] and all the boys, you feel comfortable, you feel at home, you feel at peace. I was just happy to be out there playing with them.”
The league did not announce any further details about Haden’s violation. ESPN Cleveland reported Aug. 8 that Adderall use triggered Haden’s failed drug test in the offseason. Adderall is on the NFL’s list of banned substances.
Haden has repeatedly declined to comment on the report.
In a radio interview last week, Browns President Mike Holmgren told 92.3 The Fan that Haden had an appeals hearing for his suspension. The NFL does not announce suspensions until the appeals process is complete.
A Browns spokesman said the team would not have a comment about Haden’s suspension Monday.
Haden, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, will miss the Browns’ games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Giants. The suspension will cost him four game checks, or about $1.356 million. He also will be ineligible for selection to the Pro Bowl.
Dimitri Patterson, the team’s top nickel corner, will start in Haden’s absence. Patterson missed three weeks during the preseason after injuring his right knee and ankle Aug. 10 in the exhibition opener against the Detroit Lions, but he played Sunday and said he felt fine Monday.
Sheldon Brown, the team’s other starting cornerback, injured his left shoulder while tackling Eagles running back LeSean McCoy during the first quarter. Coach Pat Shurmur said he thinks Brown will be available to play Sunday against the Bengals (0-1).
Brown has appeared in all 161 regular-season games of his career, the second-longest active streak among all NFL defensive backs.
But if Brown isn’t able to play in Week 2, Buster Skrine would start opposite Patterson, and rookie Trevin Wade would serve as the nickel corner. If Brown does play, Patterson would move into the slot in nickel packages, and Skrine would play on the outside.
“Buster Skrine played real strong yesterday,” Patterson said. “After looking at the film, I’m very confident in Buster that he can come in and play very well. It’s the NFL. Guys will get opportunity, and they’re going to make the best of it. Nobody wants to be sitting on the bench watching, so anybody that’s behind somebody, they want to play. That’s really what it comes down to. The guy that’s sitting in the hole, trust me, he’s excited to play.”
Still, the temporary loss of Haden is another major blow to the defense, which is without starting weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (torn Achilles tendon) for the season and starting defensive tackle Phil Taylor (torn pectoral) for at least the first six games. Last season, Haden led the team with 19 passes defensed to go along with 65 tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.