BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – A day after announcing that he was selling the Cleveland Browns, owner Randy Lerner took in the team’s first practice open to the public Saturday morning in Berea.
Accompanied by team president Mike Holmgren, Lerner strolled onto the middle of the practice fields to watch. He also took a moment to chat and shake hands with coach Pat Shurmur as well.
Shurmur was a little feisty Friday during his press conference while addressing the impending sale of the team but said his exchange with Lerner had nothing to do with it.
“We haven’t talked about really anything beyond being informed of what’s going to happen,” Shurmur said. “Now it’s a process. He was out here watching practice, really nothing more to it than that.”
Lerner is selling the Browns to Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam for a reported $920 million.
Don’t Step On My Toes: Cornerback Joe Haden appeared to be favoring his left foot during 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills but practiced through it.
Haden said that had his big toe stepped on by Mohamed Massaquoi while covering him 1 on 1 early in practice.
“Mohamed stepped on my big toe,” Haden said. “I’m gonna be cool though. Mohamed stepped on my toe during one-on-ones at the beginning. It was just bothering me a little bit, but it’s cool. It was just throbbing.”
Fujita’s Fingers Crossed: Linebacker Scott Fujita remains optimistic that his 3-game suspension will be overturned in the courts but is leaving the process to the lawyers while he remains in camp.
The NFL Players Association has sued the NFL on behalf of Fujita to force the league to overturn the suspension.
When asked if he feels like he’ll be able to play, Fujita said, “Yeah, I feel good.”
He also didn’t seem concerned that the suspension could just be pushed back and he’d have to serve it later in the season.
“I don’t know if there’s any precedent for that, so I guess that’s probably better for the legal people,” Fujita said. “Again, I’ve just got to focus on getting better right now, getting through training camp and if that’s the case, and we cover this down the road, than fine. But right now, I just want to be on the field for week one.”
Shurmur and the Browns are not nearly as confident and are planning for his absence.
“We know that’s going to happen, we’re going to lose Scott for the first 3 games,” Shurmur said. “We’ve already decided on a plan and although it may not be obvious the way we’re rotating the linebackers in there, it’s getting done already.”
Fujita still took the reps with the first team defense.
Welcome to Brownstown: Rookie receiver Josh Gordon found out real fast how serious football is in Cleveland.
Gordon was surprised to see a standing room only crowd Saturday morning – to watch practice.
“It was different, it being a practice, totally different,” Gordon said. “It felt welcoming. It felt like a place that I definitely want to call home.
“I just love the support and the fact that they came out to watch.”
Gordon received the first official cheers and barks of camp after catching a deep ball from Brandon Weeden in a simple deep route drill.
Weeden drew a few oohs and ahhs from fans during the drill but the rookie didn’t fare as well in team drills as the defense broke up several passes.
Big Crowd: 2,937 fans packed the Browns training complex Saturday morning for the team’s first open session. The team said the crowd was larger than any practice from a year ago.
“I’ve always been impressed by our fans,” Shurmur said. “They braved the weather. We had to back off the opening of the gates – so hopefully nobody was fighting out there – because of the weather. I was out here early this morning and was concerned we’d have to go inside. I hate to go inside. I really do. The best place to practice was out here, and I knew this was one of those days that if we did go inside, it would have impacted a bunch of people trying to watch their team. I really appreciate the passion that this town has for our club.
“That’s why I’m feeling this thing that when we get it turned, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
It rivaled the actual attendance for some Indians home games this season despite gates opening 45 minutes late thanks to an early morning thunderstorm that rolled through.
Injury Update: Defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin,
fullback Eddie Williams, tight end Evan Moore, defensive back Trevin Wade and receiver Carlton Mitchell did not practice.
Brian Schaefring and Scott Paxson worked at tackle in place of Taylor and Rubin.
Taylor, Rubin and Williams were placed on the active/PUP list. Moore was placed on the active/Non-football injury list with an injury related to a workout according to Shurmur.
Although he declined to specify the exact injuries to Rubin and Moore, Shurmur added that both “will be back quickly” while Mitchell is dealing with “a leg thing.” Wade is also dealing with a leg injury according to Shurmur.
Up Next: The Browns will practice Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. Gates open at 7:45.
It will be the first practice of camp in full pads.