April 21, 2014

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Browns Minicamp Notes: D’Qwell Jackson thankful for chance to visit troops in Afghanistan

BEREA – Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson makes the most of his time away from football. After going to Sierra Leone the last few years on a medical mission, Jackson was part of an NFL-USO tour to Afghanistan in March.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to go over,” Jackson said Wednesday after minicamp practice. “We went to different camps, and a lot of troops were appreciative just to see us. Those guys are tucked away seven to nine months, they don’t get to see normal civilians, let alone I’m with Von Miller and Champ Bailey and J.J. Watt.

“They said we did everything for them, but just to be around those guys, just to hear their personal stories, it was definitely amazing.”

The trip was seven days and filled with memorable moments. Jackson said he was starting to get nervous as they waited in an auditorium with soldiers ready to be deployed.

“You look around for the kid who’s going to freak out, and not at all,” he said. “Those kids were calm as day.

“You see how calm they were, it set the tone for the entire trip. And the security was great. After that, not for a second did I feel unsafe.”

That became obvious when Jackson hit snooze in what could’ve been a dangerous situation.

“We actually had a missile attack in one of the camps we were staying,” he said. “It was a false alarm, but just to hear the sirens going off.

“They told us if you hear the sirens, run for the bunkers. I slept through it. All I wanted to do was sleep. Thank goodness it was a false alarm. But it was reality in the face. It was no joke.”

CAMERON LEARNING

The Browns signed tight ends Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge in free agency, but holdover Jordan Cameron is expected to be the starter. Coach Rob Chudzinski was asked if he’s ready for that role.

“Well, he’s not ready right now, we are working through that with him,” he said. “This is an offense that has featured tight ends and tight ends have always been a big part of it. He has the skill set that fits and he has had a good couple days.

“It’s a learning process right now and he has to keep progressing, but we feel good about him and where he is at right now.”

Cameron converted to tight end late in his college career. In two professional seasons he has 26 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown.

Chudzinski coached ex-Browns tight end Kellen Winslow at the University of Miami and in Cleveland. He said they keep in touch but he hasn’t discussed a return to the Browns with Winslow.

HADEN SCAMMED?

Yahoo! Sports reported multiple federal agencies are investigating investments sold to NFL and NBA players, including Browns cornerback Joe Haden.

Sources told Yahoo! the NFL Players Association has asked a handful of players with investments tied to Jade Management to contact FBI investigators. Jade was connected to Success Trade, a firm that came under fire from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) last week. Success Trade was ordered to stop fundraising after allegedly selling $18 million in fraudulent and unregistered promissory notes to 58 people, many of whom were NFL and NBA players, according to the report.

THE PLAN FOR TRENT

Chudzinski is looking forward to seeing running back Trent Richardson operate in the scheme put together by him and coordinator Norv Turner.

“If you look at both my history and Norv’s history featuring a running back, and I think Trent has all those qualities that you’d want in someone who is going to be able to carry the load and be a big part of our running game,” Chudzinski said. “Trent will be our primary runner and Trent has some unique skills. He can actually catch the ball well and run routes well out of the backfield.

“That’s one thing out of the last few days that we have been able to see. He is a guy that we could play on three downs. Obviously, we just have to keep him fresh.”

Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya and Dion Lewis are the backups.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

After two practices, receiver Greg Little is a fan of Turner’s system.

“So far, it’s been a wide receiver’s dream with throwing the ball downfield as much as we do,” Little said. “I’ve had 50 and 60 catches for like 500-600 yards (in his first two years), but I honestly think I could have 50 or 60 catches for 800-900 yards in this offense.”

Little caught 61 for 709 (11.6 average) as a rookie, and 53 for 647 (12.2) in 2012.

CRIBBS UPDATE

Foxsports.com reported former Browns special teamer/receiver Joshua Cribbs will retake a physical with the Arizona Cardinals “in a few weeks” and sign a deal if the Cardinals are satisfied with the results.

Cribbs had knee surgery after the season to repair a torn meniscus and wasn’t cleared by the Cardinals at the start of free agency. He spent the first eight years with the Browns but wasn’t re-signed.

EXTRA POINTS

CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi will meet with the media today at 2:30 p.m. to discuss next week’s draft.

** The Browns will have a private workout with Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel on Saturday in Tallahassee, the Plain Dealer reported. It was rescheduled from earlier in April.

** Chudzinski is hoping to practice outside today after two days inside the fieldhouse.

** Browns legendary offensive lineman Dick Schafrath is scheduled to announce the team’s third-round draft pick from Radio City Music Hall in New York. If the Browns acquire a second-round pick, he’ll announce that instead.

** New outside linebacker Paul Kruger’s brother Joe is a defensive end from Utah projected to be drafted in the late rounds.

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