Joe Haden’s training camp – and a stormy one for the Browns — ended before any of his teammates were finished.
Arguably Cleveland’s best defensive player, Haden was kicked off the practice field by Coach Pat Shurmur, who felt the 3rd-year cornerback was being too physical with rookie WR Travis Benjamin during a passing drill on the last day of workouts open to fans.
Haden was ordered to leave approximately an hour into the practice by an irritated Shurmur, who denied giving details of the situation during his news conference.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” Shurmur chirped. “That’s between me and the player. I have a great deal of respect for Joe. If you need details, you are going to have to find it. My only apology is that I used bad language and the fans were here to see it. Joe’s a great competitor and I appreciate what he does and who he is and that is the last you can hear me talk of it.”
During 7-on-7 drills, Benjamin caught a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone when he was taken down by Haden, who unsuccessfully tried to strip the ball and then pulled on the back of Benjamin’s jersey. After being ejected by Shurmur, Haden removed his helmet and shoulder pads and speedily headed into the locker room.
After that session, Shurmur said he and Haden had cleared the air.
“Joe and I talked and everything’s fine,” Shurmur expounded. “It’s a dead matter.”
Shurmur’s irritation with Haden might be comprehensible given the rash of injuries that have plagued the Browns since camp opened last month.
Benjamin recently missed time with an unknown injury, and 13 players, including rookie RB Trent Richardson, who lately underwent knee surgery; RB Chris Ogbonnaya sustained a leg injury when he got tangled at the end of a play.
Shurmur recounted player safety is his primary concern.
“It’s vital that we practice smart,” he said. “You have to be ready to practice at game speed, and you win and lose in practice. I think it’s important that guys understand that. I want all our players to make it to the horse race. Safety, everything I do I think about these players and this team. I told them that. All my thoughts revolve around our players and our team. I believe it’s very critical that we practice fast and we’re smart.”
Haden’s early dismissal capped an eventful camp for both he and the Cleveland Browns.
In the first few days, owner Randy Lerner announced that he was selling the team to truck-stop mogul Jimmy Haslam III, who is buying the Browns for $1 billion. Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft, went through minute surgery on his left knee, and has yet to play in an exhibition game.
Haden, too, has been embroiled in controversy this summer. He’s facing a possible 4-game suspension by the NFL for allegedly failing a drug test. NFL scores
Shurmur asserted the Browns have not heard from the league on Haden’s situation, and that he couldn’t comment on it even if they had.