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Browns’ Haden a confident corner
Question of the Day
BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Browns cornerback Joe Haden oozes confidence from every pore. It trickles from the ear holes in his orange helmet and seeps through his No. 23 jersey whether he’s walking, running or simply standing and talking about his first NFL training camp.
He’s a rookie _ a rare one.
There’s a swagger about the former Florida standout, a don’t-mess-with-me bravado that doesn’t come across as cocky but self-assured.
“You have to be confident playing corner,” Haden said Thursday after the Browns wrapped up their morning practice. “D-backs just have that naturally.”
It’s just one of Haden’s many gifts. The No. 7 overall selection in April’s draft, he entered the league with questions about his speed after he posted a disappointing time in the 40-yard dash at the college scouting combine in Indianapolis.
No one is doubting his speed now. Haden has hit the ground at full stride with the Browns. He’s proving to be a quick study on and off the field.
Because of an injury to Eric Wright, Haden started at left corner in Cleveland’s exhibition opener in Green Bay last week. Against one of the league’s top offenses, Haden more than held his own in his pro debut, finishing with three tackles and defending one pass.
Haden has a ways to go, but he has impressed Cleveland’s coaching staff with his early body of work.
“I like a lot of what I’m seeing,” coach Eric Mangini said. “The real value there is there’s a lot to coach off of. He is playing against a higher level of competition more consistently. His experience last week against Green Bay’s offense was a great way to start because you’re starting fast against one of the best offensives in the NFL.”
Haden could challenge Wright for the No. 1 job or he may start alongside his close friend if Sheldon Brown is dropped back to safety. No matter, Haden will be on the field this season for the Browns _ a lot.
Although he hasn’t needed long to make an impact, hardly a minute goes by that Haden isn’t reminded by one of his teammates or coaches that this is his first year.
“I hear it every day,” he said. “‘Rook this, rook that. Rook, get me some seeds.’ That’s the main thing.”
Yep, one of Haden’s first duties with the Browns has been bringing packets of sunflower seeds to meetings for his teammates.
“Still the seed man,” he said, smiling.
Haden believes playing for the Gators and against other schools in the talent-rich SEC may have given him an advantage over other first-year players. Not only does that conference have some of the nation’s top players, the league boasts some of the fleetest as well.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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