By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden conceded he was a bit uncomfortable during his 30th birthday because he had encountered two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Detroit Lions the previous day.
“Well, Monday, I felt 40,” Weeden said with a laugh Wednesday before practice. “I was a little sore.”
Suh, on other hand, probably isn’t in a joking mood, because the NFL fined him $31,500 Wednesday for a hit he delivered against Weeden on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, according to the Lions’ website.
On third-and-4 at the Browns’ 26-yard line, Suh hit Weeden in the chest as he threw an incomplete pass that wide receiver Davone Bess dropped over the middle with 2:42 left in the first quarter. Suh wasn’t penalized for the hit in the Lions’ 31-17 win over the Browns.
But in a video posted on NFL.com, Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating, is shown reviewing the play and saying: “No. 90 hit the quarterback, lowered his head, that was not called. Potential helmet to the body.”
The NFL has fined Suh seven times for a total of $209,000. Suh, a first-round draft pick in 2010, also was stripped of two game checks totaling $165,294 during a suspension in 2011.
“I think there’s always going to be a microscope on me,” Suh told the Detroit Free Press. “I think there’s been a microscope on me since I was first drafted in 2010 because I was a first-round pick. There’s always going to be a microscope on me, no matter where it is, from outside media, from the NFL, to little kids, to everybody. So there’s going to be somewhat of a microscope. My face is out there. That’s kind of part of life.”
This is the second time Suh has been fined for hitting a Browns quarterback. During a preseason game in 2010, Suh grabbed ex-Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme by the facemask, wrapped both arms around his head and threw him to the ground after the ball had been released. The NFL fined Suh $7,500 for the play.
So Suh has received two of his seven fines against the Browns. They account for $39,000 of the $209,000 he has been docked.
New Browns wide receiver Charles Johnson has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee that doctors discovered during his introductory physical, a team spokesman said Wednesday. Johnson was placed on the non-football injury list and will undergo surgery.
The Browns signed Johnson off the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad Saturday to fill quarterback Brian Hoyer’s roster spot. Hoyer was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Johnson was practicing with the Packers before joining the Browns, the spokesman said. The Browns (3-3) will visit the Packers (3-2) on Sunday.
Per NFL rules about signing players off other teams’ practice squads, the Browns must count Johnson as part of their 53-man roster for at least three games. In other words, they won’t be able to fill his spot until they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 27.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Johnson, a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft, had 128 receptions for 2,229 yards and 31 touchdowns in two seasons at Division II Grand Valley State.
“Obviously, we drafted him, a very talented young man, a very nice young man,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday during a conference call before the Browns alerted reporters about Johnson’s knee. “He’s got a lot of potential. He just ran into some injuries here in Green Bay. We were really just getting to start to work with him.”
Other injury updates
Browns starting right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard was a full participant in practice Wednesday, according to the injury report. Sheard suffered a sprained left knee Sept. 22 against Minnesota and has missed three games.
On Wednesday morning he tweeted, “Blessed morning! Feels good to be back.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Sheard was close to playing Sunday against the Lions. He practiced last week on a limited basis and was listed as questionable heading into the weekend. Sheard warmed up on the field but was declared inactive 90 minutes before kickoff.
Sheard will bolster the rotation of outside linebackers that includes fellow starter Paul Kruger and backups Quentin Groves and Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.
“It really helps us overall with him back because now we can get a good rotation,” Chudzinski said. “In the last few games when he was hurt, Paul and Mingo had to play a lot more. I think Jabaal being back is going to help all of us and all of those guys and get them in a good rotation and keep them fresh and at their optimal [place].”
Meanwhile, right guard Jason Pinkston returned to practice Wednesday. It was his first time back in action since he suffered a high right ankle sprain in a preseason game Aug. 15 against the Lions. Pinkston is on injured reserve and designated to return, meaning he is not allowed to play in a game again until after Week 8, when the Browns face the Chiefs on Oct. 27.
“I’ve done a lot of lifting, a lot of offensive linemen drills in the indoor [facility],” Pinkston said. “It felt really good doing them, so I’m just trying to continue on to bring it to the practice field, hopefully just pick up where I left off.
“It’s about 100 percent as it’s going to get right now. It’s close enough. It feels good, so I’m going to do it.”
Defensive end Billy Winn (quadriceps) did not practice. Linebacker Brandon Magee (oblique) was limited. Cornerback Chris Owens (finger) was a full participant.
One who got away
During a conference call Wednesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed he was brought in to visit the Browns’ facility twice before the 2005 draft and met with then-Browns coach Romeo Crennel.
“I thought it was a strong possibility being there,” Rodgers said. “I enjoyed my visit there. … They went in a different direction. The rest is history.”
The Browns chose wide receiver Braylon Edwards third overall. The Packers picked Rodgers at No. 24, and he led them to a Super Bowl title during the 2011 season.
Honored despite scandal
The University of Tennessee has granted its top alumni award to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam amid an ongoing federal investigation into his family’s company, Pilot Flying J, and its legal settlement with thousands of trucking company customers.
The university announced with little fanfare recently that Haslam, the CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J, was one of four people given its Distinguished Alumnus Award, the school’s highest honor for graduates who have “excelled in their field on the national or international stage and have brought credit to UT.”
University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen did not address whether the probe into rebate fraud at Pilot Flying J was considered by the panel that selected Haslam.
“Jimmy Haslam is a great friend of the University of Tennessee and an important member of the Big Orange family,” she said in an email.
— Associated Press
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 www.facebook.com/browns.abj.