Benard met with reporters for the first time since a motorcycle accident in October ended his season. He had a large scar on his right hand that was broken in the crash on Interstate 71, but didn’t reveal any more details of the accident in which he was thrown 241 feet, according to the police report.
“I’m excited to be back,” he said today. “I’m 100 percent.
“It’s a blessing above anything. You learn a lot. I appreciate life and I appreciate the sport that I’m playing and my responsibilities to it.”
Benard, who said he no longer rides a motorcycle, repeatedly expressed gratitude to the Browns and said they were in his corner from Day 1. The team could’ve withheld pay or cut him, but stood by him, paid him and brought him back for 2012.
Benard said he’s settled at 260 pounds, which should allow him to do what he does best – rush the passer. He worked with the second team at practice.
Other notes and observations:
** Linebacker Scott Fujita wasn’t at practice. Coach Pat Shurmur believed he was in Philadelphia attending the union’s grievance hearing regarding the suspensions of four players for their alleged roles in the Saints’ bounty scandal.
Fujita, who was suspended for three games, has denied any role in a pay-for-injury system. The grievance challenges commissioner Roger Goodell’s jurisdiction to hand out punishments in this case.
** Shurmur said defensive lineman Brian Schaefering had offseason surgery to fix a sports hernia. He hasn’t participated in the OTAs, but Shurmur said he might be able to return before their conclusion in two weeks.
** Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden took the first repetitions with the starting offense, but Shurmur and Weeden cautioned not to read too much into that. Colt McCoy took the first snaps last week in the practice open to the media.
“I don’t think it means anything more,” Weeden said.
** Second-year receiver Greg Little said he lost 11 pounds since last season. He altered his diet and isn’t as muscle-bound. He made a few nice catches today.
“He looks a lot quicker, a lot more sudden,” Shurmur said. “He looks like a different guy to me.”
** Fullback Eddie Williams (stiff back) didn’t practice.
** Kicker Phil Dawson didn’t attend practice, but is expected back for mandatory minicamp next week.
** The offense was 0-for-4 in the two-minute drill. McCoy worked with the first team and had two passes batted down at the line.
Weeden got two turns with the backups. The first drive ended with a nice interception by seventh-round rookie cornerback Trevin Wade, who caught the ball on the ground when rookie fourth-round receiver Travis Benjamin couldn’t make a juggling catch on a deep ball.
Weeden’s second possession ended with a missed field goal from 55 yards.
** The Browns waived rookie free-agent cornerback Mike Allen. They are at 89 players and have an open spot on the roster.
** Second-year safety Eric Hagg continued to work with the starters ahead of Usama Young. Hagg intercepted Weeden in team drills.