Browns need Joe Haden to be a leader

August, 22, 2012
8/22/12
1:30
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[+] EnlargeJoe Haden
Andrew Weber/US PresswireThe Browns are in need of Joe Haden, the team's leader, and not the team's troublemaker.
What the Cleveland Browns need cornerback Joe Haden to be right now is a leader and not another distraction.

The last thing the Browns needed at their last public practice was Haden getting kicked out of practice. He shouldn't be dragging a teammate to the ground. His focus should be on picking up this team.

This is a difficult time for the Cleveland defense. Outside linebacker Chris Gocong is out for the season, defensive tackle Phil Taylor is expected to miss at least the first six games and outside linebacker Scott Fujita faces a three-game suspension from the NFL for his part in the Saints' bounty scandal.

Wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs tried to downplay the incident. "It’s nothing," he said. "It’s like players getting into fights in practice. You fight in practice then in locker room you laugh and joke and singing songs together."

This is more than "nothing." It's troublesome to see Haden exchanging heated words with coach Pat Shumur on the practice field. Have you heard of Ray Lewis or James Harrison doing this? Or even D'Qwell Jackson, for that matter? This exchange definitely doesn't help Shurmur, whose future is already uncertain with the change of ownership.

This incident is out of character for Haden, who is usually among the most laid-back players on the team. It's easy to speculate that this is frustration stemming from Haden's possible four-game suspension from the NFL for a failed drug test. That may be the case, but Haden has to be better than that. The Browns need him to be better than that.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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