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In on time

July 26, 2010 - Mike McLain

The Browns officially open training camp Friday when veterans join the rookies, most of whom reported last Friday.

With the signing of second-round pick Montario Hardesty Monday, just two draft choices remain unsigned -- first-round pick Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, another second-round choice.

It's important for all the draft picks to be in when the veterans arrive. This is a team with plenty of holes to fill, which means potential early contributions from Haden, Ward and Hardesty.

Haden has a chance to start at cornerback opposite either Eric Wright or Sheldon Brown. Ward's chances of starting immediately are even better because of the lack of hard-hitting safeties on the roster -- there are none, to be honest. Hardesty, who had a big season as Tennessee's featured running back last season, will compete for time with Jerome Harrison.

These rookies are lucky in that they might be members of the last draft class to sign lucrative deals. When a new collective-bargaining agreement is signed, the owners would like to include a rookie wage scale. If implimented, the scale would drastically reduce player costs and do what should have been done a long time ago -- make rookies prove their skills before becoming mega rich.

The important thing, however, is getting in on time. It's been proven time and time again that rookies that hold out lose chances to have a productive first season propotional to the number of days they remain a holdout.

Haden, in particular, needs to be in camp before Friday. As the seventh overall draft pick, Haden should be a starter. That doesn't he will start. Cornerback is a difficult position to break in as a rookie. As talented and fast as college receivers are, the receivers he'll face on a week-to-week basis in the NFL are bigger, faster and better.

Haden needs to know that. It's time for summer vacation to end.











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