November 29, 2014

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Browns notes: New running back Edwin Baker familiar with Norv Turner’s system, expects to contribute right away

Edwin Baker (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Edwin Baker (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

BEREA — Running back Edwin Baker admits his knowledge about the Browns is limited.

So much so, that the only players he knew when Cleveland signed him earlier in the week were NFL legend Jim Brown and running back Fozzy Whittaker.

“I’m just happy to be here and I know this is a great organization,” the 5-foot-8, 210-pounder said Thursday. “I like the way they do things, so I’m ready to go.

“I’ve just been waiting for my moment and whenever my number is called, I’m planning to do my best.”

Baker is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday when Cleveland hosts the Chicago Bears, splitting carries with Chris Ogbonnaya and Whittaker.

The Michigan State product was San Diego’s seventh-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but only spent two inactive weeks on their 53-man roster. He was a member of the Chargers’ practice squad for the first 14 games last season.

Whittaker was his teammate in San Diego, where both played for then-Chargers coach Norv Turner, who is now the Browns’ offensive coordinator.

“We kept him on the practice squad because we thought he might become a guy that could play in the league,” Turner said. “He’s got quick feet, good quickness and was a very productive player in college. He’s not a big man, but he is a powerful runner and he’s been in (my) system, so he’s familiar with it.”

Baker split this year between the Denver and Houston practice squads before Cleveland plucked him from the Texans on Tuesday.

“I would describe myself as explosive, hard to bring down, and I have breakaway speed,” the Highland Park, Mich., native said. “Give me a crease and I’m planning to take it. I just have that confidence and I know I can play.”

Turner certainly hopes so, given that starter Willis McGahee is out with a concussion, Ogbonnaya has fumbleitis, and Whittaker is more of a pass-catcher than a featured back.

Add the September trade of Trent Richardson to Indianapolis and the season-ending injury to Dion Lewis, and it’s easy to see why the Browns’ running game has been stuck in neutral all year.

“The biggest challenge on offense has been trying to coordinate the running game with the backs we have and the different things we’ve had to handle,” Turner said. “But I think our guys have handled it extremely well — and we’ll keep working at it.”

Major honor

Linebacker Jabaal Sheard was named the Browns’ recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which is based on community service and on-field success. The NFL will donate $1,000 in Sheard’s name to a charity of his choice.

“Walter Payton was a great man on and off the field, and it’s humbling to be mentioned with him,” the third-year pro said. “Educating youth, especially here in Cleveland, is something that is very important to me, as well as helping those less fortunate.”

Sheard represents the Browns in the United Way’s Team NFL program and has made four community appearances during the season. He also delivered gifts to children being treated at Cleveland Clinic, works with Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, City Year and Shoes and Clothes for Kids.

“When I first met Jabaal, I could tell there was something special about him,” Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said. “He really separates himself because he’s an MVP in our community and a great ambassador for our organization. It’s genuinely important to him, and we’re very proud that Jabaal Sheard wears our uniform every Sunday.”

Despite missing three games with a knee injury, Sheard ranks second on the team with 4.5 quarterback sacks. The University of Pittsburgh is attempting to lead the Browns in sacks for the third year in a row.

Injury update

Guard John Greco (right knee sprain) and McGahee (concussion, knee) did not take part in the Browns’ afternoon practice. Neither veteran is expected to play against Chicago.

Greco said he was hurt on the first play of Sunday’s 27-26 loss at the Patriots.

“My foot got caught in the turf and I felt a tweak,” he said.

Tackle Joe Thomas (back), linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (ankle), defensive end Ahtyba Rubin (calf) and tight end Andre Smith (calf) were limited.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden (concussion, knee) and tackle Reid Fragel (illness) returned to full participation. Weeden should be active for the first time since being injured Dec. 1 against Jacksonville.

Also taking part in every drill were tight end Jordan Cameron (ribs), linebacker Tank Carder (shoulder), tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring), linebacker Paul Kruger (elbow), punter Spencer Lanning (left knee), linebacker Craig Robertson (knee), tackle Mitchell Schwartz (toe, knee) and safety T.J. Ward (shoulder).

* Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) completed his first full practice since Nov. 8, while linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) was limited and is expected to miss his seventh straight game.

TV talk

Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick will call the Browns/Bears game on Fox. It will air on all of the network’s affiliates in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan. Parts of Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin also will receive the broadcast.
Compass Media Networks provides national radio coverage, including a simulcast on SiriusXM channel 807, with Matt Smith and Tony Hill behind the mic.

* The Browns/Patriots game was the most-watched television program in Northeast Ohio last week, earning a 31.7 local rating and 55 share. It drew a 34.1 rating and 62 share in Greater Boston.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.