CLEVELAND – Cornerback Joe Haden stood in the middle of the locker room Wednesday night surrounded by reporters. He was soaked in sweat and still partially dressed from the Family Night practice at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
He wouldn’t address a report that he failed a drug test and could face a four-game suspension, but the fan favorite tried to defend his character.
“Everybody knows who I am,” he said. “Honestly, my friends and my family, they know exactly who I am. All the Haden Nation supporters, they know who I am, and you can’t put up a front.
“So I’m just going to just keep balling, keep looking forward to the next game and keep doing my thing.”
Haden’s teammates were aware of the news, but Haden refused to address the situation.
“I can’t comment on it at all,” he said. “Anything involving the situation, I’m not going to talk about.”
ESPN Cleveland, citing an anonymous source, reported Haden tested positive for Adderall during a routine offseason test and has been notified by the league. Adderall is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. But it’s on the NFL’s list of banned substances as a stimulant.
If Haden failed a test, his “B” sample would be tested next. If it, too, is positive, the league would establish a punishment, likely a four-game suspension.
Haden would have the right to appeal, and agent Drew Rosenhaus attended practice Tuesday. He could argue Haden has a doctor’s prescription, but that didn’t work for Giants safety Tyler Sash.
He was recently suspended four games for testing positive for Adderall and argued it was prescribed to help him deal with anxiety during offseason speaking engagements. Sash lost his appeal, but Giants running back Andre Brown recently had his own suspension overturned because he said he was able to prove he had a prescription for the same drug.
Spokesmen for the Browns and the NFL declined comment. The league’s drug testing is confidential.
“Joe Haden’s status is he’s out here practicing getting ready to play,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “If I knew something, I couldn’t talk about it, and I don’t know anything.”
New owner Jimmy Haslam was asked about missing Haden for the first four games.
“I don’t know enough to comment on that,” he said. “Obviously Joe’s a great player and we certainly hope he’s available, but I don’t know anything more than that.
“He’s a great player and a great guy.”
Even if he is suspended, Haden would be able to practice and play in the preseason. He wouldn’t be allowed to practice the first four weeks and would forfeit four game checks worth $1,356,000. He would be ineligible for the Pro Bowl and other postseason awards.
“Joe’s gonna be Joe, and people should love him for who he is,” strong safety T.J. Ward said. “He’s just a great person. … Joe’s always in high spirits, so he’ll bounce back from this.”
Haden developed into a shutdown corner last year, starting all 15 games he played and totaling 65 tackles and 19 passes defensed. He didn’t have an interception but had five as a rookie.
The Browns are already without linebacker Chris Gocong (Achilles, out for the season) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral, out until November). Linebacker Scott Fujita is also suspended for the first three games for his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal but hopes to have it overturned in court.
Shurmur signed autographs before and after practice and thanked the crowd of 19,412.
“What a great experience,” he said. “I ran into so many Browns fans that either had never been to our stadium and talked about just how neat it was to be out here, and so this event provides that. A lot of people that maybe can’t afford to come to our games or just wanted to come out and enjoy the Browns had a great opportunity to see our team work.
“It’s very exciting for us to do it in front of the fans.”
Rookie receiver Josh Gordon, a second-round pick in the supplemental draft, dropped at least three passes Wednesday night.
“Some of our young guys, when the bright lights come on and you start breathing a little heavy, you’ve got to keep your focus, and I think there’s something to be learned from that,” Shurmur said.
The defense dominated the offense in the final portion of practice, with all four quarterbacks being intercepted.
Nickelback Dimitri Patterson got Brandon Weeden, safety Bubba Ventrone got Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Lewis, and Antwuan Reed ripped Colt McCoy’s pass out of the hands of receiver Rod Windsor.
** Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson didn’t practice, joining tight end Benjamin Watson, defensive end Frostee Rucker and safety Usama Young on the sideline.
“He just sat out,” Shurmur said of Jackson. “He’s like a lot of players at this time, every once in awhile they miss a practice.”
** The stadium turf looked good, except for a chunk almost 20 yards wide at the west end of the field. The turf hasn’t recovered from the Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney concert July 29.
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