Alonzo Ephraim was pretty flippant Wednesday for a player facing the embarrassment of an NFL mandated suspension for substance abuse.
A Browns center for just 12 days, Ephraim must sit out the first four games of 2006 for a violation that occurred while he was with the Dolphins in 2005. The league is never specific about why a player was suspended, but one thing is certain. Ephraim's problem is drug or alcohol related. It has nothing to do with steroids.
Instead of apologizing, Ephraim smiled as he walked off the practice field.
"How ya doin'?" he said to a group of reporters.
He was asked if he let the Browns down.
"I'm here to help the team anyway I can," he said. "This is a team and not about one individual player. None of this stuff is my concern right now. I have so much on my plate; I just want to focus on making the team."
The Browns were desperate when they signed Ephraim two days after LeCharles Bentley's season ended with a torn patellar tendon. It can be argued they didn't do their homework. Ephraim was signed on Saturday, July 29. The Browns contacted him two days earlier, just hours after getting the news about Bentley.
"We were in a situation where we needed a body," Crennel said. "He was available. I think it was over a weekend. All the lines of communication were not open. We went ahead and made the move. As it turns out he'll be suspended those four games. It was just one of those things that happened because we couldn't communicate as well as we needed to communicate."
Ephraim can stay with the Browns throughout the preseason. The suspension begins Sept. 2. Ephraim cannot practice or play in games. He can be reinstated Oct. 2, but the Browns do not have to take him back.