BEREA: As the Browns practiced in front of future owner Jimmy Haslam III on Saturday morning, the man who constructed the majority of their roster acknowledged the uncertainty he faces as a result of the shift in power.
Browns General Manager Tom Heckert conceded that he does not know what lies ahead. He just hopes he’ll be able to stick around.
“It’s hard for me to say,” Heckert said Saturday morning at a youth football event in Akron. “We obviously want to [stay]. We do think we’re on the right track. We knew it was gonna take a little while, but if you do it the right way, that’s what happens. We’re really excited about this season, but you know, hey, I hope I’m here to see it all through.”
On Thursday, Mike Holmgren said “I hope to” remain president of the Browns. But like Heckert, Holmgren can’t be certain about his future with the team, especially if Joe Banner, former president of the Philadelphia Eagles, joins the organization. Banner is part of Haslam’s group, according to the NFL Network and other media outlets.
In his introductory news conference Friday, Haslam said he wouldn’t rush to make personnel decisions and declined to talk about them in specifics, because the NFL owners have yet to officially approve his purchase of the Browns. As for Heckert, he told other members of the front office to just keep plugging away.
“We did talk to the staff,” Heckert said. “I don’t know that we had to, but they understand the situation. It’s a little different because ownership changes don’t happen a whole lot, but guys understand it’s a part of the business. There’s always a possibility of change. It’s part of the business. … All our guys can do is keep working. It kind of is what it is.”
Heckert said he doesn’t expect Haslam coming aboard to affect the way he manages the roster in the meantime.
“No, no changes or worries at all,” Heckert said. “Jimmy Haslam, that’s exactly what he said — it’s business as usual. Nothing is going to change right now.”
Another strong day
Browns cornerback Joe Haden had 19 passes defensed last season, but interceptions were far more elusive.
Haden did not pick off a pass last season after finishing with six interceptions as a rookie during the 2010 season. He’s determined to bounce back this year, and it’s showing in training camp.
Haden intercepted a pass Saturday that quarterback Seneca Wallace intended for rookie fullback Brad Smelley during an 11-on-11 drill. Haden also had two interceptions on Friday.
“It’s always good to get interceptions,” Haden said. “Pass breakups are good, too, but just getting the ball back in the offense’s hands helps out. I think I’m just gonna try to instead of putting out one hand, just go for it, shoot out two [hands], try to get the pick.
“I wasn’t really being conservative [last season]. … A lot of my [pass breakups] came on third down, so I’m like, ‘If I miss this, they get a first [down]. If I knock it down, they’ve gotta punt it to the offense.’ ”
Coach Pat Shurmur said his staff has had discussions with Haden about the importance of creating turnovers.
“We’ve talked about that with Joe,” Shurmur said. “Usually you get what you emphasize, and if it shows up in practice, that’s the best chance to have it show up in a game. He’s getting his hands on balls now. His coverage is tight. I think he’s having a good camp to this point.”
Heckert believes Haden is capable of increasing his production.
“I don’t see why not,” Heckert said. “He played really well. He just couldn’t catch the ball for some unknown reason. He’s such a phenomenal athlete and such a great competitor.”
Tight end Benjamin Watson joined the list of sidelined players Saturday with an undisclosed injury. … Defensive tackle Scott Paxson practiced Saturday after leaving Friday’s session because he didn’t feel well. … The Browns said 3,236 fans attended practice.