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Haden's in the house

July 31, 2010 - Mike McLain

BEREA -- The Browns' 2010 draft class is fully on board now that first-round choice Joe Haden has signed a five-year, $50 million contract.

Haden ended up missing only one practice, which is good news for the team and for him. Cornerback isn't an easy position to play for a rookie. An extended holdout would have ruined all chances he has of starting.

Before news of Haden's signing was announced, coach Eric Mangini stressed the importance of all rookies arriving in camp on time. Mangini wasn't here in 2007 when quarterback Brady Quinn missed considerable time in a holdout. He never had a chance to win the starting job that season, and it set into motion three forgettable seasons in Cleveland.

The question with Haden now isn't about missing time but about his skill level. If former Browns executive Mike Lombardi is to believed, Haden might struggle. In a recent internet post, Lombardi said that Haden struggled in offseason practices and might lack the speed needed to play cornerback in the NFL.

Lombardi isn't widely respected in NFL circles. He didn't make many friends during his time in Cleveland.

At first Mangini said he wasn't aware of Lombardi's report. He then said the following: "A lot of rookies go through transitions. A lot of corners go through transitions. They’re not going to play as fast as they are early on because they’re thinking and processing, and when you’re doing that you’re not really playing to your ability.

“I sat down with the rookies before they left (in June). I said, ‘The more you can get on this stuff mentally, the quicker you’re going to be able to show who you are as opposed to everything being processed.’ It takes time. Every guy is a little different.”

It sounds like Haden might have struggled during the offseason, but that's not unusual for a rookie. Let's wait until the season starts before being critical of any rookie.



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