Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - If you look at the polls and predictions Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns have won the unanimous honor of being the worst team in the NFL.
No. 32 out of 32.
“Everybody’s got their cracks in on what everybody thinks they’re going to do this year and how teams are going to be,” Coach Pat Shurmur said.
Shurmur tries not to care and claims that he doesn’t read or listen to what is said about the team but his demeanor and body language say otherwise.
He bristles at reporters when asked about the doom and gloom thoughts about his team, which features 15 rookies and 27 total players with 1 or fewer years of experience this year.
“Everybody has their opinion of my team,” Shurmur said. “I try not to listen good or bad about whats said or written. I love my team and can’t wait to see them compete. This is the time of the year that we find out who we are.”
Here’s a sampling of what some voters in the AP Pro32 are saying about the Browns entering week 1:
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 32) — Brandon Weeden will struggle at times. Team will struggle most of time.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 29) — Rebuilding year in Cleveland revolves around first-round round picks Weeden, Richardson.
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 31) — Worst team in one of toughest divisions.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 31) — Trent Richardson gives Browns elite running back they badly need. They think they have their guy at QB in Brandon Weeden. Record won’t improve right away, but at least there’s hope.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 32) — Lots of changes coming here, but most are a year away. In the meantime … ugh.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 30) — Three rookie starters on offense is a tough call. I do like Brandon Weeden, but there are already people saying Colt McCoy is just as good. I’m not buying that yet. Didn’t like to see Joe Haden and coach Pat Shurmur have words on field, but it happened and they move on. Hope it’s not early signs of frustration.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 32) — Baby steps in Cleveland with Weeden and Richardson.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 29) — Browns facing too many big problems — inexperience on offense and lack of pass rush on defense. Not a good combination in quality division.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 31) — Lots of inexperience on Browns roster, and that could make for a long season.
Regardless of the predictions Shurmur remains optimistic and enthusiastic about the upcoming season.
“If you don’t sense my enthusiasm you’re missing it,” Shurmur said. “I’m looking forward to putting my guys out there.”
Good To Go: It appears the cornerback Joe Haden will play Sunday.
Haden was back on the practice field again Wednesday, an indication that the NFL has yet to rule on his appeal of a 4-game suspension for failing a drug test.
True to form, Shurmur did not want to address Haden’s status prior to practice.
“Let me just make this very strong point, that is a league issue and if I did know anything about it I can’t talk about it,” Shurmur said. “I’ve said that all along so at this point I’m not going to comment.”
When asked about president Mike Holmgren’s conformation to ’92.3 The Fan’ Tuesday on Kiley and Booms that Haden has already had an appeal hearing, Shurmur again declined comment.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said Wednesday that Haden was a top 5 corner in the league.
Taking Care Of The Line: The Browns offensive line was criticized heavily during the preseason and quarterback Brandon Weeden doesn’t understand why that is.
“These guys have an attitude,” Weeden said. “Look at all the guys, like Joe [Thomas] who’s an all pro. Look at Alex [Mack], he’s a smart kid. All of the guys are smart guys and they’re extremely hungry. For whatever reason, everybody discounts how well they’ve played. They’re a huge staple for our offense and in order for us to have success, they have to play well. They’re a good unit.”
Much of the criticism came as a result of Weeden and Colt McCoy being sacked a combined 9 times during the preseason.
The 28-year old rookie will be counting on his line to keep his jersey clean this season and he might be a rookie but knows how to work the room.
“I took them out to dinner the other night and wow those boys can eat,” Weeden joked. “They’re a close knit group, you always watch them and they’re always back there just talking. They’re just a really tight knit group.”
Staying Ready: Linebacker Scott Fujita is keeping himself in shape and ready in case a federal judge grants a stay of his 3-game suspension.
Tuesday the NFLPA filed for a restraining order on behalf of the players suspended in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation to rejoin their teams in time to play regular season openers.
Fujita is working out at Baldwin Wallace College and tweeted a ‘thank you’ to the staff for their “hospitality” and allowing him to use their facilities as his “bullpen” Wednesday morning.
It’s not likely that things will be resolved in the courts anytime soon and Fujita will miss at least Sunday’s opener.
Injury Report: The first injury report of the season was released by the Browns Wednesday.
LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique), OL Oniel Cousins (ankle) and OL John Greco (calf) did not practice.
RB Trent Richardson (knee), QB Thaddeus Lewis (right thumb), CB Dimitri Patterson (knee), DB Ray Ventrone (hamstring) and TE Ben Watson were listed as limited.
S Eric Hagg, who went home with the stomach flu Monday, RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ankle) and TE Jordan Cameron (groin) all returned to practice Wednesday and were limited as well.
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