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Browns Decline Hard Knocks Invitation And The Distractions The Show Brings

By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat Reporter
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(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

DarylRuiter_300 Daryl Ruiter
Cleveland Browns beat writer and member of the Pro Football Writers of...
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BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns have a big enough media circus on their hands without adding to it.

The team declined an invitation to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks in August – when they were approached by the league prior to the NFL Draft.

“I just really wanted to get through that first season’s training camp. This was a decision that was made long before the draft,” head coach Mike Pettine said. “It was just something that I felt in my gut, I just didn’t want to be a part of the first year.

“I saw the positives of it, but I think there’s some negatives to it, as well. Just not having a good feel for our roster, as far as the chemistry and the personalities and all of that, that’s kind of going into some uncharted territory to agree to do that right out of the gate.”

In 2010, Pettine and the New York Jets were featured in season 6 of the series which chronicles the drama surrounding a team during training camp.

Because the Browns are in the first year under a new coaching staff (again), they are exempt from being required to appear on the show.

Receiver Andrew Hawkins, who remembers when the Bengals appeared on the show last year, is glad the Browns turned it down.

“I think that was a great decision,” Hawkins said. “It does get a little distracting. There’s just so much other stuff going on. Guys are in there worrying about football and learning plays and guys are trying to make the team. I think sometimes, even what I noticed in Cincinnati, a lot of the young would kind of play into the cameras, and they’re setting up stories and they’re too naïve to even see it and it’s taking away focus for them. So I think it was a great decision for coach to turn that down.”

Sheard Extension – Outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard is entering the final year of his 4-year, $5.09 million rookie contract and there have been some preliminary discussions about a long-term deal but they haven’t gone far.

“Hopefully it works out,” Sheard said. “I’m just going to take it one step at a time. I can only worry about this year. I love it here, I love the fans here, I love the support I’ve been getting, the teammates. The locker room is growing on me. I feel more comfortable now than I did when I first got here.”

Unfortunately since being drafted the Browns have gone 13-35 in his 3 NFL seasons and he’s hoping to stay around long enough to see the franchise turn it around.

“I can’t wait. I want to be here when this city erupts,” Sheard said. “I just know it’s coming. Hopefully this year is the year.”

Sheard, who was selected in the second round – No. 37 overall – of the 2011 NFL Draft, transitioned from defensive end to outside linebacker last season and started the 13 games he played. He figures to be a starter at the position again this season under Pettine.

“He’s been impressive,” Pettine said. “He was a guy that we liked coming out of Pitt. I was very encouraged from watching the film from last year. We talk about the ‘Play like a Brown’ attributes, and we want a guy that plays like his hair is on fire. If I had to pick on guy that fits that, the first name I would come up with is Jabaal.

“He’s versatile. I think we can move him around. He can play with his hand down. He can play up. His drop skills are more than adequate, and he plays violent.”

Burleson Back, Austin Held Back – Receiver Nate Burleson was back on the field catching passes Tuesday while fellow receiver Miles Austin watched from the sidelines.

Burleson, who had his cast removed last week, is returning from a procedure to correct a plate in his forearm that he received after breaking it last year during a car accident. He re-injured his forearm in April but has made a quick recovery.

Meanwhile Austin, who has battled hamstring injuries, is working his way onto the field slowly. He participated in individual drills last week and again on Tuesday.

Brownie Bet – Lose a bet, dress up as Brownie the Elf for a practice.

That’s what happened to one of the Browns area scouts who watched practice in the mascot costume which drew a few chuckles from the Browns front office and coaching staff.

A Browns area scout dressed in the Brownie the Elf costume for Tuesday's minicamp practice after losing a bet. / (Photo by Chris J. Allen CBS Cleveland)

A Browns area scout dressed in the Brownie the Elf costume for Tuesday’s minicamp practice after losing a bet. / (Photo by Chris J. Allen CBS Cleveland)

Still Out – While cornerback Justin Gilbert was back on the practice field, fellow rookie guard Joel Bitonio remains sidelined with an ankle injury sustained last Tuesday. He will not participate in minicamp Pettine said.

Receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive lineman Billy Winn, running back Dion Lewis and linebacker Tank Carder were among the notable players that did not participate and rode the bikes Tuesday.

Of the injured players, Benjamin is the only player that Pettine said that he may not have on day 1 of camp that could start on PUP (physically unable to perform).

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