BEREA: Five members of the Browns were among a group of NFL owners and players who met Tuesday with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss athletes kneeling during the national anthem.

Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam were present along with linebacker Christian Kirksey, cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Randall Telfer, a team spokesman confirmed.

About 20-25 people attended the two-hour meeting at NFL headquarters in New York, according to NJ.com, which first reported Thursday the roundtable discussion took place.

“We were basically talking about what we’re going to do to move forward and how we’re going to approach the whole kneeling situation,” New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas told the website. “It was a whole bunch of opinions shared. There was nothing we decided we’re going to do collectively. I think it was a very conducive meeting.”

After President Donald Trump encouraged owners Sept. 22 to fire players who kneel during the national anthem — “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,” the president said at a political rally in Alabama — about 200 NFL athletes sat, knelt or raised their fists while The Star-Spangled Banner was performed this week.

The Haslams called Trump’s comments “misguided, uninformed and divisive” in a statement released Sunday, and about 21 Browns players knelt during the anthem before their 31-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

“The NFL is special,” Kirksey said Thursday. “Trump saying what he got to say is just uniting us, player-wise, ownership. As long as we stay together, Trump can say whatever he wants to say. His comments were definitely disturbing, and as a leader of this country, it kind of belittles him to say things like that.”

A dozen Browns players knelt in prayer during the anthem Aug. 21 before a preseason game in Cleveland against the Giants on Monday Night Football in an attempt to raise awareness about racial and social injustice.

Then before the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Browns players participated in a show of unity with several military personnel and first responders. They ran out of the tunnel together and stood beside each other during the anthem, with many of them locking arms. The Haslams were also on the sideline for the anthem, and Dee Haslam linked arms with tight end Seth DeValve and a police officer.

Kirksey said the Browns (0-3) are brainstorming and planning how to handle the anthem Sunday before their home game against the Cincinnati Bengals (0-3).

“I just don’t want to shy away from the overall message, what’s going on in America,” Kirksey said. “I think that we addressed the issue. I think it’s clear as day what the message is, and we’re just trying to effect change and that’s the biggest thing. We can’t act like we don’t see what’s going on. What we’re about is positively affecting people’s lives, giving people a chance to be equal and that’s what it’s all about.”

The Browns are committed to working with first responders to make a difference in the community. On Tuesday, wide receiver Ricardo Louis and safety Ibraheim Campbell joined members of the Cleveland police and fire departments to visit local youth football teams.

“Nothing is in the media [about] players giving up their time going out in the communities,” Kirksey said. “... We’re the players that are going out in those communities. We’re trying to effect change. We’re trying to help the world.”

Staying optimistic

Defensive tackle Danny Shelton suffered a calf injury in Wednesday’s practice, underwent an MRI the same day and sat out Thursday’s practice.

About two hours before he met with a doctor Thursday to learn the results of the MRI, Shelton was optimistic.

“You never know, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be good,” Shelton said. “I feel a lot better from [Wednesday] and just working with the trainers and doing the treatment, it’s made it feel a lot better.”

The Browns have yet to provide an update about the MRI, but the injury is not believed to be long term.

Shelton said he hadn’t yet given up on possibly playing Sunday despite the non-contact injury.

“It doesn’t feel too bad,” Shelton said.

Coach Hue Jackson said Shelton played “extremely well” in the first three games. The 12th overall draft pick in 2015, Shelton started each game and compiled eight tackles.

“It is unfortunate, but [injuries] happen,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, it is nothing major.”

Jamie Meder figures to receive more playing time if Shelton remains sidelined.

“Danny’s a great player, so obviously without him, it’s minus a great player,” Meder said. “But next man up. We all know what kind of league this is.”

Ready for reunion

If you think Browns right guard Kevin Zeitler will be distracted or emotional when he reunites with the Bengals on Sunday, you must not know he’s akin to a machine.

Zeitler is so focused on doing his job that he didn’t even notice rookie defensive end and No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett had returned to practice Thursday.

“That’s honestly believable,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “He’s very, very focused on his job, what he needs to get done. Sometimes during the games even ... guards usually communicate ... I try and talk to him about something that happens and he’s just so focused that it’s easier not to talk to him about it. He’s really, really into it. He’ll talk to me, but it’ll be a one-word answer, then he’s back to his happy place.”

Zeitler’s happy place was Cincinnati for the past five years, but the Browns made him the highest-paid guard in NFL history in March by signing him to a five-year, $60 million deal.

“It’ll be cool to see old friends on the field, but I’m prepping for it like a regular game, and it’s going to be a good challenge,” Zeitler said. “They have a good defense.”

Zeitler said he has “no hard feelings” about the Bengals not breaking the bank to re-sign him.

“It is a business,” Zeitler said. “They have a lot of talented players on that team that they need to take care of in the upcoming years. It is what it is. I’m happy to be here and be part of the Browns.”

And the Browns are happy to have Zeitler, known for his dedication and spending four to six hours in the weight room on a typical day in the offseason.

“Hardest worker on the team,” rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said.

Other injuries

Strongside linebacker Jamie Collins continued to miss practice with the concussion he suffered Sept. 17 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Wide receivers Kenny Britt (knee) and Sammie Coates (hamstring), tight end Randall Telfer (knee) and left tackle Joe Thomas (knee) returned to practice. Thomas was a full participant, and the other three were limited.