BEREA — One of the most recognizable players on the Browns roster around Cleveland during the offseason was Joe Haden.
Haden, the No. 1 draft choice in 2010, was seen often this past offseason at Cleveland Cavaliers games, Cleveland Indians games and throughout the community. He dressed up in a Cavs uniform, an Indians uniform and often mixed and mingled with fans. He even threw out the first pitch at an Indians game this week.
He has quickly become a fan favorite.
"Oh I'm really excited," Haden said about starting the season.
Pat Shurmur said having a guy like Haden on the team is fun.
"He's a fun guy to be around because he loves to play and can run all day," he said. "He's good in coverage and he challenges. He's a fun guy to coach for all those reasons. It's very rare, you look at a guy and it's hot and they're tired, and he's out here smiling, joking and playing fast. I can appreciate that from him."
Haden played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting seven. He had 57 tackles, six interceptions, 18 pass break ups, a sack and a forced fumble. He led the Browns in interceptions and was tied for fifth in the NFL. He had interceptions in four consecutive games, which hadn't been done since 1968.
Haden says he is much more relaxed in his second season.
"It's a whole lot different," Haden said. "My role is a whole lot different. I am starting and I don't have to worry about too much on special teams. My main goal is to go out there and lock down receivers and that's one thing we were working on this whole offseason and the whole time since training camp. Coach had me working on my technique and just trying to develop as a corner and I felt I have been doing a really good job."
One of the interesting matchups this week should be Haden against rookie and No. 1 draft choice A.J. Green. The duo played against one another throughout their college careers in the SEC.
"It's not really matchups," Haden said. "It's more left and right. (Green) lines up to my side a lot, so it should be like back in the good old days of Florida vs. Georgia.
"In college, we went up against each other and he is a really good receiver. I think him and Percy Harvin were the best receivers I played against all through college. He is just big, tall, and not only does he have speed, but he can still come out of his breaks really well. He is really one of the best receivers out there."
In defensive coordinator's Dick Jauron system, cornerbacks are primarily either on the right or left side. Jauron was asked why the best cornerback couldn't be matched up against the opponent's best wide receiver the whole game, regardless of which side they were on.
"You can match corners, at times," Jauron said. "I have been in situations where your best corner doesn't want to go to the other side. Then, you find guys who will travel all over the field. That's the only rationale for not matching. It's hard to disguise certain things, but it's usually the player."
Jauron was asked if he would match Haden or Sheldon Brown with certain receivers.
"I can't think of a good reason to answer that," Jauron said smiling.
Jauron said that Haden has been impressive and he think Haden and T.J. Ward will help the Browns for years to come.
"T.J. and Joe are outstanding picks."
He also said Brown brings a wealth of experience to help the younger defensive backs.
"Sheldon is a pro and he knows how to play," Jauron said. "He's not a real loud guy, but he doesn't tolerate a lot of foolishness and that has to have a positive effect on Joe."
Pashos Back at Practice: Shurmur said offensive lineman Tony Pashos had the boot removed from his ankle and participated in the walk through Thursday morning and practiced in the afternoon.
"(Pashos) was out of the boot and he went through the walk through Thursday morning," Shurmur said. "We intend to practice him (Thursday afternoon)."
If all goes well, Pashos could start at right tackle against the Bengals.
"If practice goes well, and the reports are good, I expect him to play."
Linebacker Chris Gocong practiced Wednesday and had no setbacks. Shurmur thinks he can play, as well.
"I expect him to," he said. "He practiced well and did well and we expect him out there today."
Hagg was the only player on the bike during the time the media was allowed to watch practice.
Gocong thinks he'll be ready to play, despite missing all of the preseason. He played in the 4-3 in Philadelphia and said the systems are similar. Gocong suffered a stinger, but the Browns listed the injury as to the shoulder.
"It felt good out there," Gocong said. "You've got to be smart, and obviously, we've been smart the past four weeks."
Watson has battled different problems throughout the preseason, starting with a concussion.
"I'll play (Sunday) as far as I know," Watson said.
Mitchell showed where he had surgery, but said the finger is not bothering him.
"I'm good to go," Mitchell said. "It looks nasty, but it doesn't hurt."
Captains Named: Shurmur said the Browns will have three captains for each week that go out for the coin toss.
"We have a group of about 15 guys," Shurmur said. "These guys I consider guys who established themselves as leaders, we're going to have some young ones in there and they are to help keep (the rookies)calm, settle them down."
Looks Like Pinkston: Shurmur said that rookie OL Jason Pinkston is getting most of the reps with the starting unit and most likely will start against the Bengals.
"I don't want to be definitive, but Jason is taking most all of the reps," Shurmur said. "(Artis) Hicks and (John) Greco are taking reps, as well."
Shurmur is confident with Pinkston because of his surrounding cast.
"If it ends up being Jason--it probably will be--he's surrounded by Alex (Mack) and Joe (Thomas)."
Pinkston was with the first unit during Thursday's practice.
MoHard Ready to Go: Shurmur said that RB Montario Hardesty is ready to go.
"There are no pitch counts on anybody," Shurmur said. "He'll play and get some carries."