BEREA: It might take a little while for the offense to run as smoothly as the Browns coaches would like it to, but the defense appears to be in midseason form.
Defensive back Joe Haden jumped a route and knocked the ball away on a pass from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden to receiver Mohamed Massaquoi early in practice, then later made another diving deflection of a Weeden pass.
“I’m just out here ballin’,” Haden said. “My focus is the Browns and us winning games. We came on a mission when we came back, that we have six and a half months to just focus and play ball.”
Veteran defensive back Dimitri Patterson was also very active during the two-hour afternoon practice, as was free-agent defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, who also broke up a pass play.
“I thought the defense challenged very well today in practice,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I thought we got some excellent work. You can tell initially, always in the first practice, when you put shells on and helmets and you add the linemen in there, the passing game takes a day or two to look the way I want it to look. But I thought the defense challenged well and that’s a good thing.”
No word yet
Linebacker Scott Fujita, one of four former and current New Orleans Saints players suspended for their alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal, is doing his best to be patient with the lengthy court process as he tries to clear his name of any wrongdoing.
Fujita, who has maintained his innocence, is fighting his three-game suspension. The NFL denied the appeals of the suspended players, but earlier this month, the NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit against the league, saying that Commissioner Roger Goodell violated the collective bargaining agreement.
“Those are all things out of my control right now, unfortunately,” said Fujita, speaking to reporters covering the Browns for the first time since the NFLPA lawsuit was filed. “So, I just have to come in and work to prepare to play. That’s the best I can do right now. The litigation has got to run its course. Again I’m hoping for the best, but I have to wait to see what happens.”
Two key players — defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and tight end Evan Moore — did not practice Friday. “There are going to be a couple of days before they are back out there,” said Shurmur, who declined to divulge the nature of the injuries that sidelined them.
Veteran offensive lineman Oniel Cousins took reps with the first team ahead of rookie second-round pick Mitchell Schwartz. … Kicker Phil Dawson nailed a 57-yard field goal to end an early special teams drill. Today’s practice (8:45 to 11:15 a.m.) is free and open to the public. … The Second Annual Cleveland Browns Motorcycle Rally will be today at 2 p.m. with Browns president Mike Holmgren leading the way on his Harley-Davidson. Call 216-310-2666 for more information.
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