By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat ReporterBy Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson is ready to return from a bad left ankle sprain.

Patterson practiced for the second straight week without problem after missing the previous 8 weeks – 7 games – with the injury.

“I feel good so no doubt,” Patterson said. “It’s been 2 months. I don’t want to use the word anxious because anxious doesn’t go well when you’re trying to be productive out there but I am looking forward to it, to get back out there, put some good stuff on tape and get back to my old self.”

Patterson had been cautious about coming back too soon for fear of hurting the secondary by not being able to cover the slot on a bad ankle.

After working on it a couple of weeks, he doesn’t seem worried anymore about the 2 month layoff affecting him.

“Let’s be honest, 2 months is a long time in the game of football,” Patterson said. “When you’re coming back from an injury like that and a long layoff like that it’s more mental than anything. It’s physical too because there’s a conditioning aspect there but it’s going to be mental because of the game and how it is. So that’s what I did. I focused on the mental aspect and my body always follows.”

In 5 games this season, Patterson has recorded 25 tackles and broken up 5 passes.

Cease Fire: A day after being compared to a “crazy ex-girlfriend” by Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis, left tackle Joe Thomas decided to let his criticism of the former Browns’ running back rest.

“No I don’t,” Thomas said when asked if he had a reaction to Hillis’ response. “I answered the questions that I was asked on Wednesday and after that I was totally focused on the [Chiefs’] defense.”

Thomas said on Wednesday that Hillis’ presence in 2011 had become “toxic” and he allowed his contract to dictate his willingness to play. Aside from missing 6 games with injuries, a soap opera followed Hillis off the field the entire season.

The war of words this week sparked jokes that Thomas could play defense to stick it to Hillis on the field but in reality – that isn’t going to happen.

“No plans to play defense, yet, but that could be a secret so don’t tell anybody,” Thomas joked. “The last time I played defense I got hurt so I don’t want to do that again.”

Browns Buzz: With the Browns having won 4 of their last 7 and in position to win their 3rd straight, some fans are starting to believe that these aren’t the ‘same old Browns.’

“We’ve got a great fan base,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “I’ve said it all week, let’s not look at the record, this is a good football team. We’ve got to play our best football to find a way to win the game. I anticipate there will be a great crowd. They will be ready to go.”

The Browns are 3-3 at home this season with the next 2 in the friendly confines of Browns Stadium.

“I hope the fans are getting excited,” Thomas said. “They’re seeing the same things that we’ve been talking about and how this team’s moving in the right direction and we’re getting better and the young guys are getting more experience and turning into good players for us.”

Thomas has been here before only to see the Browns have a letdown. He’s hoping that doesn’t happen again and they can keep convincing a still skeptical fan base that their turnaround is real.

“Hopefully we go out and play well and the fans are excited and they show up and they cheer hard for us ‘cause I do think it’s kind of an exciting atmosphere that’s building right here,” Thomas said. “But we’re trying to keep it quiet, [the] excitement around the building.

“We still like being the underdog and playing that role.”

Another Award Winner: Punter Reggie Hodges was named this year’s recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.

Hodges, who is the first Browns’ punter to win the award, missed the entire 2011 season after blowing out his Achilles during training camp.

“I think it’s great,” kicker Phil Dawson said. “That was a bad injury last year. As tough as it is to come back from injuries physically, I think emotionally it’s even tougher. You always get little twinges and pains doing what you do but coming off an injury you always wonder, ‘Oh no is that happening again?’ There’s a certain amount of mental toughness that’s required and I’m really proud of the job that he’s done this year.

“He’s a great locker room guy and a great guy in the community and certainly deserves that award.”

Injury Report: Probable – WR Josh Cribbs (shoulder/chest), OL Ryan Miller (forearm), S Ray Ventrone (calf), S Usama Young (concussion), TE Jordan Cameron (groin), CB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), LB James-Michael Johnson (finger), RB Trent Richardson (chest/rib/finger) and DE Frostee Rucker (shoulder/finger).


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