October 1, 2014

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Notes: CB Joe Haden apologized to teammates before suspension, has their support

BEREA – Life without No. 1 cornerback Joe Haden began Wednesday as the Browns started practice for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. Haden was suspended Monday for four games for failing an offseason drug test.

He knew his appeal wasn’t going to succeed and the suspension was coming, so he said some goodbyes Sunday after the opening loss to Philadelphia. He isn’t allowed at the team facility until Oct. 8.

“He came up to a few of us and he apologized for what had happened,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “If he knew the outcome before the situation happened, he obviously wouldn’t have done it. He’s feeling bad about it.”

Coach Pat Shurmur talked to Haden often during the appeals process but wouldn’t divulge details. Shurmur said he doesn’t judge first-round picks like Haden (No. 7 overall in 2010) more harshly than the rest of the team.

“All the players are held to a very high standard,” Shurmur said. “I would hold any player to the same standard, I think that’s important.

“Joe had an outstanding training camp, he made plays throughout the preseason and then in our first game he had some real good plays. We had these conversations — I anticipate that when he comes back he’ll pick up where he left off.”

Haden tested positive for Adderall, according to an ESPN Cleveland report, which is on the NFL’s list of performance-enhancing drugs.

“We constantly inform our players about the rules in all situations,” Shurmur said.

“At the end of the day we are responsible for what we put in our bodies whether we knew it was on the banned list or not,” Jackson said. “Take that extra hour or two days or week to make sure what you are taking is legal … You have to keep up with it.”

Veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown is the leader among the defensive backs. He expects his teammates to show up for work, but has forgiven Haden.

“Joe’s a great guy,” he said. “Sometimes we all get caught up in situations that we can’t control. It doesn’t define him as a person or a man. He’s still a heck of a teammate. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

“He plays his heart out every time he’s there, and he’s actually taught me some things. I wish him the best. This is just an adverse situation that he’ll overcome and he’ll be a better man.”

FUJITA BACK AT IT

Linebacker Scott Fujita has a meeting scheduled with commissioner Roger Goodell and hopes to finally put the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal behind him. Fujita wouldn’t reveal the time and place of the meeting and is trying to keep his focus on the Bengals.

“We don’t know what’s ahead or what’s coming down the road,” he said. “From the very beginning I felt optimistic. Obviously, I wish it could have been resolved awhile back so it’s not a distraction for anybody.

“But I’ve got to block all that out and just focus on the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s the best thing I can do at this point, control what I can control.”

Fujita didn’t play Sunday against the Eagles. His three-game suspension was lifted Friday afternoon, but the practice week was over and the coaches stuck with the players that had prepared.

Fujita, who wore a brace on his knee, practiced fully Wednesday and hopes to play against the Bengals.

“I’m coming to work every day and get as many reps as I can to get back in there and be game-ready,” he said. “I feel great, so I’m just excited to get back on the field with the guys.”

Fujita, 33, has started all 19 games he’s played in two seasons with the Browns, but Shurmur didn’t commit to him regaining his spot Sunday. Undrafted rookie L.J. Fort started the opener and had an interception and sack.

“Scott is going to work in there in our base defense and again we’re going to watch him go through practice and see how much he can handle based on the practice reps,” Shurmur said. “That will be kind of a gametime scheme thing, but I’ll hold final judgment on that until the end of the week.”

Fujita has been adamant throughout the six-month-long process that he never paid a teammate to injure another player. The NFL determined the Saints had a pay-for-injury program in 2009.

A three-judge panel overturned the suspensions of Fujita and three former teammates Friday and sent the case back to Goodell. He can reissue the discipline, but the meetings scheduled with the players point to a different resolution.

“I’m always an upbeat, glass-half-full kind of guy. I feel good about it,” Fujita said.

INJURY REPORT

Running back Trent Richardson (knee) was a full participant in practice. He was limited last week before playing in the opener.

“There was no swelling or anything that happened in the game that would set him back,” Shurmur said.

“I’ve had no problem with it,” Richardson said. “If you want to go outside, I’ll race you now.”

** Brown (shoulder) also practiced fully and should play in his 162nd straight game, which would be the second-longest active streak for a defensive back (Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber, 225).

Brown suffered a stinger Sunday when he and Eagles running back LeSean McCoy collided shoulder on shoulder.

“I’m fine,” Brown said. “I don’t really care about the streak. The only thing I care about is wins and losses. I didn’t even know the streak existed until I got here.”

** Left tackle Joe Thomas (knee) was limited. He hasn’t missed a snap in his six-year career.

** Backup offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (ankle) returned to practice and was limited. He had missed three weeks of practice and was inactive Sunday.

** Safety/special teamer Bubba Ventrone (hand) and rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique) didn’t practice.

** Backup offensive lineman John Greco (calf) and tight end Benjamin Watson (thigh) were limited.

** For the Bengals, rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) has been ruled out. Tight end Donald Lee (thigh) and cornerback Adam Jones (illness) didn’t practice. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap (knee) and halfback Bernard Scott (hand) were limited.

TITLE TOWN

Jimmy Haslam, who’s expected to take ownership of the Browns on Oct. 16 after a league vote, is changing his role at Pilot Flying J.

The company announced Tuesday he will move from CEO of Pilot, the title he’s held since 1994, to chairman of Pilot Flying J and Maxum Petroleum.

John Compton, president of PepsiCo, will assume the role of CEO of Pilot. He has been active in the University of Tennessee, like the Haslam family.

The change could free Haslam to spend more time with the Browns. He’s said he will split time between Knoxville, Tenn., and Cleveland.

Jim Haslam, Jimmy’s father, will hold the titles of founder and chairman emeritus.

EXTRA POINTS

Offensive lineman D.J. Young was signed to the practice squad and offensive lineman Jeff Shugarts was released from the practice squad. Young (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) was undrafted in 2011 out of Michigan State and signed with Arizona.

He spent 16 weeks on the Cardinals’ practice squad and the final one on the active roster. Arizona waived him Aug. 31.

** Defensive end Frostee Rucker was named the game captain for this week and will call the coin toss. He played his first six seasons in Cincinnati before signing with the Browns as a free agent in March.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.