By Ryan Lewis
Beacon Journal sports writer
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- Browns postgame notebook: Travis Benjamin's blazing speed haunts Bills during record-setting performance
- Marla Ridenour: Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer’s knee injury has 2014 draft implications
- Quarterback Brandon Weeden rallies Browns as teammates rally him
CLEVELAND: The Browns honored Jim Brown, the greatest player in franchise history and arguably NFL history, during a halftime tribute in their 37-24, prime-time win against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Brown was honored with a video tribute and ceremony and was re-inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Before the game, Brown joined five breast-cancer survivors as honorary coin-toss captains as a part of the NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson made an official proclamation of Oct. 3 as “Jim Brown Day.”
After the game, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski presented Brown with a game ball.
Brown’s attendance Thursday carries significance after he boycotted his own induction into the team’s Ring of Honor in September 2010 over a dispute with ex-Browns President Mike Holmgren.
Brown felt disrespected after Holmgren stripped him of his executive adviser title in May of that year and criticized former Browns owner Randy Lerner for not delivering the news himself. Under new owner Jimmy Haslam, Brown again joined the team in an official role as a special adviser on May 29.
“It’s great to be back,” Brown said on WKYC (Channel 3). “This is where I should be. I am always going to be a Cleveland Brown. I love this city and I love these fans. We have the greatest fans in the world, so here I am.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars this week traded offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for the Ravens’ fourth- and fifth-round draft picks in 2014.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and NFL.com reported that the Browns would have traded for Monroe had they known he was available.
That most likely is a sign that the Browns’ brass doesn’t have much confidence in right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Schwartz struggled quite a bit in the team’s first two games this year against the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens.
Schwartz was selected in the second round, No. 37 overall, in the 2012 draft by the previous regime.
Meeting ‘Prime Time’
Before the game Thursday night, Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders talked with one another on the field. Sanders is part of NFL Network’s coverage.
Haden has often talked about joining the elite ranks of cornerbacks around the league and this week tweeted a picture that hangs in his locker of the islands of Hawaii, where the Pro Bowl is played.
“[Haden] is a Pro Bowl-caliber type player, and we’ve challenged [him] to take the ‘caliber’ off and put the ‘Pro Bowl’ in front of it,” Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said this week. “So we’re challenging him to be as good as he can be and to be one of those guys that is mentioned every time you talk about one of these elite corners. ... Everybody knows he’s got that talent. Now he’s, I think, displaying it.”
Mingo over E.J.
In April, the Browns opted to select outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, over several other options, including Bills starting quarterback EJ Manuel.
Horton says he’d take Mingo “every time.”
“I know how it’s going to work out for us because I coach him and I’m a defensive coach, so I’d take Barkevious every time,” Horton said. “I’m sure the Buffalo Bills looked at what they could do and were happy with their pick. ... I think with the quarterback touching the ball so much, he’s critical to their success, and I’m sure they looked at their quarterback situation and thought, ‘This is the perfect player for us,’ just as we thought Barkevious was the perfect player for us.”
The Browns wore brown jerseys with brown pants on Thursday night. Per a Browns spokesman, this is believed to be the first time in franchise history that the team has worn all-brown uniforms.
Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya took a hard hit to the helmet early in the second quarter while trying to catch a tipped pass and left the game with a concussion, Chudzinski said. Tight end MarQueis Gray took his place when the Browns were on the goal line in the same drive.
The Browns made Brandon Weeden active Thursday for the first time since he suffered a sprained right thumb Sept. 15 against the Baltimore Ravens and chose him over Jason Campbell as their No. 2 quarterback behind starter Brian Hoyer.
Campbell was inactive against the Bills along with starting right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (sprained left knee), defensive end Billy Winn (strained quadriceps), outside linebacker Quentin Groves (high-ankle sprain), running back Fozzy Whitaker, center Patrick Lewis and offensive tackle Martin Wallace.
Mingo made his second NFL start, filling in for Sheard for the second consecutive game.
Horton said he thought Sheard had started to play well in his new role before being injured.
“We thought he played his best game in Minnesota until the injury, obviously,” Horton said. “He has been an outstanding example of a player being a football player. He was a 4-3 left defensive end and we changed him to a 3-4 right stand-up outside linebacker, and he’s just been wonderful mentally and physically, in coverage, rushing the quarterback and understanding the package. I thought he was miles ahead of where he was last year, and obviously we miss his production on the field.”
Right guard Shawn Lauvao made his 2013 debut and returned to the starting lineup. He missed the first four games after suffering a high ankle sprain and undergoing arthroscopic surgery in August.
“It felt good,” Lauvao said. “You’re going to rusty. I’ve been out two months. But I’m happy coach put his trust in me and let me get my start. It felt good to be out there with the guys.”
Starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist), starting free safety Jairus Byrd (foot) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (right groin) were on the Bills’ inactive list.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.