Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - If the Cleveland Browns are looking for a theme song this season, “We are young” by Fun is a perfect selection.
27 of the 53 players have 1 or fewer years of NFL experience – including 15 rookies.
“In this locker room, my 3-year-old’s old,” tight end Ben Watson joked. “Golly, we are a young team.”
They might be young but they are professionals. There are no excuses.
“They’re in there,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “We don’t care if you’re a rookie or a 7-year guy. If you’re playing, you’re playing. Whoever is up, we’re depending on you to win the game for us.”
Many question whether or not they can actually win, but that remains the goal regardless of age.
“Winning is very important whether you’re young or old,” Watson said. “It’s all about winning. It doesn’t matter if we have a young team or an old team. Once we get out there on Sunday it doesn’t matter how old you are.
“You have on that Browns uniform so whether you’re 22 or 32 it doesn’t matter. Our job is to go out there and make plays to win the game.”
Raw Deal: Coach Pat Shurmur is the last to tell you that he feels like he’s getting a raw deal with the impending change in ownership.
Shurmur and the rest of the front office and coaching staff could very well be on the hot seat this season with Jimmy Haslam III buying the team.
In just his second season, there could be pressure for Shurmur to win now with such an inexperienced roster if he wants to keep his job but the pressure to win regardless of the circumstances is always there according to Shurmur.
“I have that tension that I put on myself to win every year,” Shurmur said. “This is the team we have. I love our team. Coaches live with that tension that you have to win. We all live with that. When you get involved with this profession, you just know that’s the most important thing.
“Everybody else tries to predict what kind of hand you’ve been dealt but coaches are not in the prediction business. We’re out here to educate, encourage and inspire our players to go win.”
President Mike Holmgren has noticed Shurmur grow as a coach from year 1 to year 2 and is doing his best to balance staying out of the way while also lending a hand when asked.
“He feels much better about knowing who he has, he’s told me that, and that seems to me pretty obvious,” Holmgren said. “He’s very involved in practice. He’s more involved with everybody than he was a year ago. I’m still learning his coaching style, to be honest.
“Everybody does it their own way. I like when he calls the guys together, they listen to him. He has their attention.”
Haslam has been asking a lot of questions and been very visible around the team since the sale was announced Aug. 9.
Getting Healthy: Running back Trent Richardson wasn’t the only player to return to practice Monday.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson and safety Ray Ventrone were back on the practice field.
“He looked good,” Shurmur said of Patterson. “Again, he was running around fast. Some of these guys are just getting back into it. You haven’t been aware of it, but they’ve been doing lots of work behind the scenes. It doesn’t surprise me to see them out there running around.”
Patterson practiced for the first time since sustaining a knee and ankle injury in the first preseason game at Detroit on Aug. 10.
“It felt good to be back out there,” Patterson said. “You never really know how fully you’ve recovered from an injury until you get out in a live practice so I feel pretty good.”
Patterson is confident he’ll be on the field for the opener Sunday against his former team – the Eagles.
“No doubt about it,” Patterson said. “You can always tell the first day and you get a good gauge of where you’re going to be. I felt real good, real good.”
Ventrone had been out since Aug. 19 with a right hamstring injury.
Numbers Game: Now that the 53-man roster is set, 5 players were permitted by Shurmur to switch their jersey number.
Josh Gordon traded in 86 for 13, Craig Robertson is now wearing 53 instead of 47, L.J. Fort moves from 40 to 58, Garth Gerhart switched from 53 to 61 and Billy Winn has gone from 79 to No. 90 in your program.
Head Shots: The Browns provided players with head shots of media members as a courtesy so they know who the beat reporters, talk show hosts and TV personalities are this season.
Watson posted a copy of the guide in the locker room next to his locker for his teammates.
“It’s important for everyone to know who you guys are,” Watson said.
The pages already appeared to be a bit “weathered” and ironically sat above a trash can.
Watson quickly denied any deliberate subliminal message when I pointed this out to him but he also got a good laugh out of it once he realized the irony of the location.
Not many media members have picked the Browns to win many games this season – a fact that actually doesn’t bother Watson.
“I haven’t heard those skeptics so I don’t have anything to say to them,” Watson said. “It’s about making plays when you’re out there. It doesn’t matter how old you are. There’s no excuses about age old or young.”
Practice Squad Move: The Browns brought back defensive end Brian Sanford to the practice squad. To make room, linebacker Solomon Elimimian was released.
Sanford was waived Saturday after spending all of training camp and the past two seasons with the team. Elimimian was waived by the Minnesota Vikings on Friday and picked up by the Browns on Saturday.
Berea Bike Brigade: RB Chris Ogbonnaya (left ankle), TE Jordan Cameron (undisclosed), OT Oniel Cousins (right leg), LB James-Michael Johnson (oblique) and DT Phil Taylor (pectoral muscle; on PUP list) were all on the bikes at the start of practice.
Safety Eric Hagg was sent home by the team with the stomach flu.