BEREA—The Browns should get a boost to their defense this week with the expected return of Joe Haden and K’Waun Williams to the secondary as the Browns open their schedule in the AFC North against Baltimore. Both players were on the practice field on Wednesday.
The Browns have up 358 yards in the passing game in the 30-27 loss to the Chargers last Sunday.
While addition of Haden and Williams should help, the Browns could be missing Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson, who left last week’s game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Gipson was questionable last week with a groin injury.
Haden missed last Sunday’s game with the Chargers after working out in the pre-game and deciding he wasn’t at top efficiency. Williams has missed the last two games after suffering a concussion against the Titans on Sept. 20.
Williams knows he needs to be careful as he's had three concussions in the last year.
"I still want to be aggressive," Williams said. "I just want to continue to play the game and be smart. I know the long-term effects (of concussions), but I just need to be smart. I feel good. I'm happy to be out there and I'm still having fun."
Haden received some criticism when Mike Pettine said on Monday that Haden decided not to play. Pettine clarified his thoughts on the situation on Wednesday.
“He is (receiving flak) and I think a lot of that is unwarranted,” Pettine said. “Some of that, I will bear some of that blame, just in detailing that procedure and how it went. Joe made the decision based on he didn’t feel he could be 100% and he felt it would hurt the team if he played. I think it’s something that I’ve talked about with him and feel comfortable with where we are with it.
“It’s unfortunate because Joe is one of the faces of our franchise,” Pettine said. “Nobody questions his toughness, his leadership, how important the Browns are to him, what being a Cleveland Browns means to him and vice versa. I think it’s unwarranted and I misspoke. Joe wanted to be out there. He wanted to play, just his assessment, did not want to put the team at risk knowing that he could not be at the percentage that in his heart he knew he could get to.”
Haden has only missed nine games in his six seasons with the Browns, including four in 2012 when he was suspended by the NFL for substance abuse. Haden started the first three games of this season and had 16 tackles with a pass broken up and a fumble recovery against the Titans. Haden left in the third quarter with a rib injury against the Raiders and returned. Pettine said he felt he needed to reach out to Haden when the criticism began.
“I think when the flak started, I felt that I needed to reach out to him,” Pettine said.
Ravens John Harbaugh expects Haden to play this week.
“Well, we’re expecting Joe Haden to play," Harbaugh said. "I fully expect him to play and be out there and be a part of what they’re doing. I told our guys the secondary is highly decorated and they’ve been very good. You’ve got three Pro Bowlers back there and good young players back there that know how to make plays. Joe Haden is a great player. Tramon Williams is a great player, corner, has been around, been to Pro Bowls. Highly respected group.As a rookie in 2014, Williams had 31 tackles with a sack and eight passes broken up in 13 games, including four starts.
Robertson Likely Out: LB Craig Robertson continues to be sidelined with an ankle injury and didn’t practice Wednesday, along with DB Tashaun Gipson. Pettine didn’t sound as though Robertson would be able to play this week.
“Gip (Gipson) and Craig will not practice,” Pettine said. “(Shaun) Draughn (back) and (Brian) Hartline (thigh/ribs) is a little more encouraging.”
Other players on the injury report were: DB Johnson Bademosi (elbow), DL Desmond Bryant (shoulder), LB Karlos Dansby (ankle), RB Duke Johnson Jr. (ankle), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow) and OL Mitchell Schwartz (thumb). All practiced with the exception of Hartline, who was on the stationary bike during the portion open to the media.
Solomon, Turbin Practice: RB Robert Turbin and LB Scott Solomon were on the practice field Wednesday and are progressing.
“(Robert) Turbin and LB (Scott) Solomon will do some team work,” Pettine said.
Pettine said both will be on a ‘pitch count’ during practice.
Solomon was injured on the second defensive play from scrimmage in the first game of the season against the Jets on Sept. 13. Turbin was injured in the preseason with the Seahawks and received an injury settlement from the Seahawks before being waived. The Browns claimed him to the active roster on Sept. 10.
AFC North Starts: The Browns will play their first of six AFC North games this week against the Ravens. The Browns were 2-4 last year within the division after splitting with the Steelers and Bengals. They dropped both games with the Ravens. The Browns know if they’re going to have a successful season they have to win within the division as it comprises nearly 38 percent of the schedule.“Success in the division is a big priority.” Pettine said. “I went over the history with Baltimore with players, especially the younger guys.”