BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – With Tom Brady returning from his ‘deflategate’ suspension this week, it stands to reason that the future Hall of Famer might be a little rusty when he plays the Browns Sunday.
While Browns cornerback Joe Haden might be hoping that’s the case, he and his teammates are not expecting it to be.
“I don’t think so,” Haden said. “I think he’s going to come back and be ready to go.
“Him and his coach, they’ve been together for so long. They just know each other like the back of their hand so I think that he’s going to come back in mid-season form.”
Haden conceded that not having film on Brady so far this season makes their preparation a little more challenging but his reputation as one of the greatest ever to play the game is all he needs to think about as he prepares to face the 4-time Super Bowl champion.
“In my book he is the greatest ever,” Haden said. “He’s my favorite quarterback of all time.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has perfected the art of gamesmanship and working the system, hasn’t officially activated Brady but Browns head coach Hue Jackson is game-planning for Brady.
Middle Class Warfare – Patriots defensive end Jabaal Sheard is the disaster that has been the Browns in the expansion era in microcosm. Sheard, drafted in the second round in 2011, walked in free agency with no attempt by the Browns to keep him.
Sheard has been a force defensively for New England while the Browns now boast one of the youngest and most inexperienced defenses in the league. Since joining the Patriots, Sheard has totaled 39 tackles, forced 4 fumbles and racked up 11 sacks. The decision by former GM Ray Farmer not to try to keep young talent like Sheard left Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas shaking his head.
“Certainly that’s one of the frustrations that I’ve had over the years,” Thomas said. “That’s the problem when you’re constantly hitting the reset button. Guys that are really good players like that end up falling through the cracks or going to other teams because any time a new staff comes in basically they wipe out the middle class. They keep a couple of your ‘superstars’ and then they want everyone else being a rookie so that they can try to develop them.
“When you keep doing that over and over again, you really lose all your middle class on your team. So guys like Buster Skrine, Jabaal Sheard, D’Qwell Jackson, Jordan Cameron, Travis Benjamin…disappeared, even though those were the guys that you drafted them, spent the time developing them and right when they’re hitting stride in the peaks of their career, they end up going somewhere else and having great success.”
Sheard’s exit was reminiscent of the decision by Farmer in 2014 to let safety T.J. Ward sign with the Broncos in favor of Donte Whitner. Ward was instrumental in helping Denver win another Super Bowl while Whitner, who was released by the Browns in April, just signed with Washington after being on the street for the first 4 weeks of the season.
The failure to keep those players make Thomas, who is mild-mannered and makes a concerted effort to ‘stay in his lane’ while playing for 6 different coaches and general managers, shake his head in frustration.
Maybe this time around the younger players that do develop will actually be kept, assuming they actually become worth keeping.
Back To Plan A – John Greco returns to center this week and Alvin Bailey is back at right guard following the injury to Austin Reiter at Washington Sunday.
“It probably looks that way,” Jackson said.
Reiter, who sustained a torn ACL at Washington, has yet to be placed on injured reserve because he must remain on the active roster for at least 3 weeks after being signed off of Washington’s practice squad. He’s been with the team for 2 weeks.
Roster Moves – The Browns signed undrafted rookie offensive lineman Anthony Fabiano from their practice squad to the active roster and waived defensive lineman Gabe Wright to make room Wednesday.
The Browns also signed tight end E.J. Bibbs and offensive lineman Mike Liedtke to the practice squad. Bibbs was with the team in training camp.
Injury Report – DNP: LT Joe Thomas (non-injury related/rest), QB Josh McCown (shoulder), WR Corey Coleman (right hand), C Cam Erving (chest/lung), C Austin Reiter (knee), TE Seth DeVale (knee), TE Randall Telfer (ankle); LIMITED: S Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring), CB Joe Haden (groin/thigh), DE Carl Nassib (hand), CB Tramon Williams (shoulder); FULL: WR Andrew Hawkins (calf)
QB Robert Griffin III (shoulder) is on injured reserve but worked with trainers on the side.