November 21, 2014

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New owner Jimmy Haslam watches practice on first day on the job

BEREA – New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III got an up-close look at his new team this morning and was greeted with one of the more spirited practices on a hot day in the dog days of training camp.

He walked onto the practice field at about 9 a.m. with president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert, wife Dee and father James.

Haslam wore a gray Browns T-shirt and brown shorts and acknowledged cheers from the crowd with quick waves. He watched the entirety of the practice, most of it with Holmgren, who continually pointed out things.

Haslam also talked briefly with coach Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy and running back Trent Richardson.

Many Haslam family members were at Browns headquarters for the big day. Haslam’s introductory news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Haslam finalized a $1 billion deal Thursday to buy the team from Randy Lerner. Haslam will get 70 percent initially and the remaining 30 percent in four years.

The sale must be approved by the NFL and its owners, but it’s expected to sail through quickly.

“You’re gonna find them to be very passionate people, very excited to be owners of the Cleveland Browns,” Shurmur said. “It’s a great mix for the team, the fan base and our city.

“I saw the passion in his face and felt the passion in his handshake.”

Haslam didn’t address the players as a team before practice and it was unknown if he would do so today. But he made a good first impression on McCoy.

“He seemed really nice,” McCoy said. “His wife was out here, his dad was here. Seemed like a great family. I think it’s a great thing.”

Haslam reportedly will bring former Eagles president Joe Banner with him, and CBSsports.com’s Clark Judge reported he will assume the president role. It’s unclear if he and Holmgren will fit in the organizational structure, but the senior executives will remain in place until the sale clears the league and becomes final.

Other notes and observations from practice:

Weeden had perhaps his sharpest day of camp, throwing numerous touchdown passes in red zone drills. Mohamed Massaquoi caught two touchdowns and Greg Little made a diving reception and a one-hander.

Shurmur credited Weeden’s improvement to becoming more comfortable with the people he’s throwing to.

** Running back Trent Richardson was a full participant in practice and absorbed a couple of big hits after sitting out the end of Thursday’s practice with a migraine.

** Left defensive end Jabaal Sheard continues to give rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz a crash course. They went one-on-one several times, with Sheard testing him with his explosiveness.

** Defensive tackle Scott Paxson wasn’t at practice, but Shurmur said he’ll be back Saturday. Rookie sixth-round pick Billy Winn took his place with the starters and impressed Shurmur again with his quickness.

** Defensive end Frostee Rucker, receiver Carlton Mitchell, defensive tackle Brian Schaefering, safety Usama Young and kicker Jeff Wolfert sat out with injuries.

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