CLEVELAND: Soon-to-be Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III made good on another promise Friday night.
As the Browns hosted the Philadelphia Eagles, Haslam found a prime spot in the center of the Dawg Pound at Cleveland Browns Stadium, entrenching himself eight rows up for part of the first half.
At his introductory news conference Aug. 3, Haslam vowed to mingle with the masses at Browns family night during training camp and to sit in the stands for a preseason game.
Besieged by fans, Haslam didn’t see much of the action, posing for photos and signing autographs. Haslam wore a brown polo shirt with the team logo and slacks.
President and CEO of Pilot Flying J truck stops, Haslam is awaiting league approval of his purchase of the Browns from Randy Lerner. Interviewed by Jim Donovan of WKYC (Channel 3) during the third quarter, Haslam said he had been told the vote will come during the scheduled owners’ meeting in mid-October.
Haslam is paying about $1 billion. Lerner has already moved back to New York.
Asked his impressions on the state of the roster, Haslam said on WKYC, “If you look, we have a chance to start six rookies day one, I think that says a lot about the type of talent we’re accumulating. There’s been a huge turnover in the roster. I think we went from the second-oldest team in the league two or three years ago to now the second youngest.
“It’s going to take a little time. We’re in this for the long run. We’re not going to knee-jerk, we’re going to hang with it, we’re going to build through the draft. Hopefully in two or three years we’ll have the kind of talent, the kind of team the Philadelphia Eagles do.”
During pregame warm-ups, Haslam spent a lengthy time on the field talking to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. Haslam also planned to accept an invitation to pick the brain of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Haslam and Browns President Mike Holmgren also spoke to Eagles coach Andy Reid, a close friend of Holmgren’s.
Browns fourth-year defensive end Marcus Benard, who missed the final 12 games last season after being hurt in a motorcycle accident, suffered an elbow injury with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter. Benard was immediately taken to the locker room and did not return. He was seen going into the X-ray room after the game with his left arm heavily wrapped and in a sling.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said receiver Jordan Norwood suffered an eye injury.
Hug for Haden
Browns coach Pat Shurmur showed he had made up with cornerback Joe Haden, whom he kicked out of practice Wednesday when Haden grabbed receiver Travis Benjamin’s jersey. Haden returned for that afternoon’s walk-through, and Shurmur said later that day the air had been cleared.
After Haden thwarted a possible Eagles score by intercepting a Nick Foles’ pass intended for DeSean Jackson at the Cleveland 9 in the first quarter, Shurmur hugged Haden when he returned to the sideline.
Buster Skrine replaced Haden in the second quarter.
Good news on T-Rich
Browns General Manager Tom Heckert told Donovan during the pregame show there’s “a pretty good chance” rookie running back Trent Richardson will play in the Sept. 9 opener at home against the Eagles.
The third overall pick, Richardson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9. It was the second procedure on the knee in six months for Richardson, who suffered a torn meniscus in Alabama’s BCS title game.
Also encouraging was the fact that Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson was back on the field before the game without a walking boot and had no limp. Among the inactives, Patterson suffered a right ankle injury when teammate Ray Ventrone rolled on his leg Aug. 10 against the Detroit Lions.
Patterson would be the logical choice to start if Haden receives a four-game league suspension after reportedly failing a drug test.
Interest in Colt?
Heckert also told Donovan he’s “sure” the Browns will get phone calls about quarterback Colt McCoy, but added that the Browns are “in no hurry to do anything.”