BEREA — Quarterback Tyrod Taylor walked off the practice field and was greeted with the news that NFL owners had voted in a rule prohibiting players from sitting or kneeling during the national anthem before games.
Commissioner Roger Goodell considered it a compromise because players can remain in the locker room rather than stand on the sideline. Taylor was disappointed the owners hadn’t consulted the players.
“To make a decision that strong, you would hope that the players had input on it, but obviously not,” Taylor said after the organized team activities practice. “It is what we have to deal with as players. Not a good or a bad thing, but at the end of the day, they call the shots and make the rules. That is what we have to abide by.”
The owners didn’t like the negative attention the league received in some corners last year when players across the league kneeled or sat during the anthem to protest social injustice and racial inequality. A dozen Browns kneeled during the anthem for a preseason game and 20 during the season after President Donald Trump harshly criticized NFL players.
Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam expressed their respect for the national anthem but listened to Browns players and worked with them on social justice causes.
The new league rule states teams, not players, would be fined for violations of the policy, but also allows teams to set their own guidelines, which could lead to punishment for players.
The Browns didn’t immediately announce a policy. Taylor seemed resigned to following the league’s demand.
“Whether it is (disappointing) or not, at this point, it is a rule,” he said. “We have to abide by it. Instead, let’s try to shift the conversation to what players and owners can do in the community. We have great support from our owners here, and they are willing to back us in the community in whatever we want to do.”
Receiver Jarvis Landry said the rule won’t affect him.
“I’ve always respected the flag, so that really doesn’t have anything to do with me,” he said. “I use that moment to come to peace and take all the elements in, so for me personally it doesn’t bother me or affect me and I’ll leave it at that.”
WORKING ON A DEAL
The Browns added a pair of high-quality running backs during the offseason — Carlos Hyde in free agency and Georgia’s Nick Chubb with the No. 35 pick in the draft.
Yet Duke Johnson feels secure in his future with the team despite entering the last season of his rookie contract.
“Yeah, I’m very optimistic,” Johnson said of an extension. “I believe that not only the staff, but the front office wants me here. It’s just about both sides coming to an agreement.”
At the end of the winless 2017 season, Johnson reiterated his desire to stay with the Browns. He didn’t change his mind over the offseason and is encouraged by the ongoing, if dragging, discussions about a new deal.
“We’re still in contract talks. Taking it day by day,” he said. “It’s going well. It’s not going bad.”
Johnson was a third-round pick out of Miami in 2015 and signed a four-year deal worth $3.1 million. His next deal will likely average more than that per season.
No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield is practicing with the veterans, which means he’s third in the quarterback rotation behind Taylor and veteran Drew Stanton. It also means the competition level has risen since rookie minicamp.
Mayfield was a mixture of good and bad Wednesday.
In a red zone drill, he hit tight end Julian Allen for a touchdown, then had a nice lofted throw to the back corner of the end zone go off the hands of leaping tight end Seth DeValve and get intercepted by safety Derron Smith.
Mayfield spent a seven-on-seven period working on throwing over the middle. He was intercepted by linebacker James Burgess on an underthrow, then looked off the secondary and zipped a completion to tight end David Njoku down the seam. He also made a good throw on a post that receiver Evan Berry dropped.
Mayfield’s up-and-down day included a good throw in tight coverage to rookie sixth-round receiver Damion Ratley and a near-interception by safety Jabrill Peppers over the middle. Practice ended with Mayfield’s third interception when cornerback T.J. Carrie got his arm in front of an out route, deflecting it to Smith.
WAIT TILL THE YEAR AFTER
Nashville was awarded the 2019 NFL Draft, pushing Northeast Ohio’s hopes of hosting to 2020. The Browns had bid to host in either year.
“When we entered the 2019/2020 NFL Draft process, we knew all of the cities would submit competitive bids,” a team spokesman said in a statement. “The Titans and Nashville will represent the NFL well next year, and we are excited to continue our discussions with the league on Northeast Ohio being an exceptional site for the 2020 NFL Draft, along with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said all parties involved in the Northeast Ohio partnership “stand ready” to host in 2020 if selected.
Taylor isn’t dwelling on a report that the Browns offered the No. 35 pick in the draft in trade talks for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. The Eagles said no, and the Browns shifted their focus and acquired Taylor from the Bills for the No. 65 pick.
“Things happen in this league that you can’t change,” he said. “I have always been one to focus on what I can change, and that is my attitude daily, the effort that I bring and the energy that I bring around my teammates. I really can’t speak on or let that affect me.”
General manager John Dorsey didn’t want to comment on the NFL Network report.
“Well, I know this: We are very excited to have Tyrod Taylor as our starting quarterback,” he said. “He’s our starting quarterback, I’m not going to talk about another team’s player.”
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Landry isn’t satisfied with being ranked No. 52 on NFL Network’s Top 100 list. And he doesn’t agree with his placement.
“Of course, not,” he said. “My goal is to eventually be No. 1. Honestly, it is an honor to be recognized among all of the top players in this league and to be recognized in the top 100, but I want to be first.”
He believes that’s where he belongs.
“I consider myself the best,” he said. “I consider myself the most complete receiver. If you turn on the film, I do everything — I block, I play inside, I play outside and I come out of the backfield. My value is that much more to the team and to the offense. I consider myself the best receiver in the NFL.”
Landry had 400 catches in four years with Miami, making the Pro Bowl the last three seasons before being traded to Cleveland.
Shon Coleman, who started 16 games at right tackle last year, opened as the first-team left tackle, as the search begins for Joe Thomas’ successor. Rookie Austin Corbett, the No. 33 pick, took over with the second unit.
** EJ Gaines and Terrance Mitchell were the starting cornerbacks, with No. 4 pick Denzel Ward and Carrie next in line.
** Linebackers Jamie Collins and Tank Carder and cornerback Howard Wilson, who all suffered knee injuries last season, didn’t practice. Emmanuel Ogbah participated in a limited role after breaking his foot last season.
** Chubb dropped a couple of passes in a goal-line drill.
** Rookie fourth-round receiver Antonio Callaway made a nice catch on an out route from Stanton.