BEREA: The Browns have not yet made plans to honor Art Modell before their season opener Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the possibility of an acknowledgement still exists, a team spokesman said Thursday.
Modell owned the Browns for 35 years before moving the team to Baltimore in 1996. He died Thursday morning at age 87.
The Browns released a one-sentence statement: “The Cleveland Browns would like to extend their deepest condolences to the entire Modell family.”
Although the current Browns are detached from Modell’s era in Cleveland, they realize why many fans still consider him a villain. They understand why a moment of silence or some other tribute would probably not go over well Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“We all understand the severity of it,” special-teams ace/wide receiver Josh Cribbs said. “Fans are just voicing their opinion. Fans are die-hard. At the same time, this is a person’s life. So I know a lot of them, even though they might have some words to say that aren’t positive, they can respect the fact that it’s a person’s life. That’s a loved one, he has a family and he was loved in the NFL. There might not be so much love in Cleveland. We all understand why. But at the same time, that’s a person’s life. We should respect that and respect a person’s family.”
Tight end Benjamin Watson concedes many players don’t know the history of Modell’s departure from Cleveland.
“A lot of these guys were in elementary school,” Watson said. “I was in high school.”
Still, the fan base has schooled the expansion Browns.
“I didn’t know much about Art Modell and the team leaving,” Watson said. “As I’ve been here for the past three years, I’ve heard a lot, a whole lot about it, and I’ve heard the anger about some of it. You can kind of understand. The way the fans here are very passionate about the organization, you can understand some of those things.
“We don’t really know who he is. Now that we’re Browns, obviously we care because the Browns is our history. But we don’t know as much about it as some of the people that have been here before. But that being said, we honor him as a piece of NFL history, and we respect what people feel about him here in Cleveland as well.”
On track for Week 1
Rookie running back Trent Richardson and cornerback Joe Haden continued to practice Thursday and are expected to play Sunday.
Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, practiced in pads for the first time since he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9.
“In my mind, there hasn’t been any setbacks in his recovery,” coach Pat Shurmur said.
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress is eager to see Richardson back in full force.
“I don’t think you get an appreciation for him until you really see him in full pads,” Childress said. “You watch the [organized team activities] and that type of thing, but I don’t think you can get the full measure of him until you see him shrug a couple people off and be physical and that type of thing.”
All signs point to Haden being permitted to play Sunday while he appeals a reported suspension on a drug test.
The Browns are hoping Haden can help to limit Eagles standout wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
“He’s very smooth and extremely fast,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said of Jackson. “He has another gear when the ball gets up in the air. It’s hard to overthrow him because he’s really fast. It adds a whole other dimension to an already very talented football team. He’s a very dynamic player.”
Backup offensive linemen Oniel Cousins (right ankle) and John Greco (calf) remain sidelined during practice. Rookie tackle Ryan Miller, a fifth-round pick, is the only healthy backup offensive lineman.
“You usually have your front five and then a couple more as backups,” Shurmur said. “Again, there’s a couple days left before we’ve got to set the roster, and some guys are game-day decisions.”
If neither Cousins nor Greco can play, the Browns would probably make a roster move.
“We’re a little short on numbers right now, which is tough,” tackle Joe Thomas said. “Obviously, you hope some of those guys can come back and be healthy. You can’t really worry about it because it’s not our job. But it definitely would help to have a little more depth right now because we are thin.”
Rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson (oblique) did not practice.
Tight end Jordan Cameron (groin), quarterback Thaddeus Lewis (right thumb), running back Chris Ogbonnaya (ankle), Watson (thigh) and Richardson were limited.
Free safety Eric Hagg (illness), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (knee and ankle), strong safety Ray Ventrone (hamstring) and free safety Usama Young (thigh) fully participated.
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.