CLEVELAND — Fans finally got to see running back Kareem Hunt practice with the Browns.
For a little bit.
Hunt passed his physical and was activated from the non-football injury list Saturday before the Orange & Brown Scrimmage at FirstEnergy Stadium. After arriving to training camp with a groin injury and missing the first eight practices, he participated in individual drills before sitting out team work.
“It was nice to see Kareem do that,” coach Freddie Kitchens said. “It is a slow process. We want to be safe with him and careful with getting him back.
“This was really the first day he had a chance to get back out, and I was pleased. He came out and did some individual stuff and some drill. It was very good.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield said the action, albeit limited, was a significant step for Hunt.
“I am hoping he enjoyed that more than we did,” he said. “Just for him to be out there and be in the stadium for the first time in front of everybody, not that he actually played, but just to be out there, it will change your perspective on it.”
The Browns open the preseason Thursday against Washington, and Kitchens wasn’t ready to rule out Hunt, who will open the season serving an eight-game suspension.
“There is always a chance,” he said.
Former offensive line coach Bob Wylie has some strong opinions about the coaching search that led to Kitchens being hired.
Wylie, who wasn’t retained by Kitchens, told CBS Radio’s Zach Gelb on Saturday he was surprised Kitchens got the job over former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who went 5-3 as interim coach last season.
“My own personal feeling is Gregg was too strong a candidate for the seat and I don’t think (general manager John) Dorsey wanted to go head to head like he had to do with Andy Reid in Kansas City, so he kind of filtered Gregg out of the picture,” said Wylie, who was in a rehabilitation facility for 122 days after dislocating his right ankle and tearing ligaments in his left knee toward the end of last season.
The offense and quarterback Baker Mayfield took off in the last eight games with Kitchens as the coordinator and play caller, but Wylie didn’t think Kitchens did enough to get the job.
“Baker likes Freddie. There’s a good relationship there, even though Kenny Zampese did all the coaching there,” Wylie said, referring to the former quarterbacks coach. “Baker likes Freddie, so that had to (factor) into the decision.”
Under the direction of owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, the Browns have worked with the Cleveland school district to curb chronic absenteeism. They’ve extended the initiative throughout Ohio, launching Get2School Stay in the Game! on Saturday.
“Our focus has always been on Cleveland and what can we do to help the kids of Cleveland,” Dee Haslam said. “And then it makes so much sense. If this messaging works, if identifying the barriers work, it should go statewide, and actually hopefully this is a model for the country. We can make a big difference.”
She said in the five years they’ve been working with Cleveland schools, chronic absenteeism has dropped by 4,100 kids, about 5 percent. In Ohio, 260,000 students are chronically absent, defined as missing at least 10 percent of school days, about two a month.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but it snowballs,” Haslam said.
Thirteen school districts in the state have signed up for Get2School.
All proceeds from ticket sales to the scrimmage will go to the program.
A LEG UP
Greg Joseph didn’t miss. Austin Seibert missed twice. Joseph extended his advantage in the kicking battle.
Joseph was 5-for-5 during a field goal drill and added a 51-yard field goal and an extra point during team drills. Seibert was 3-for-5 in the field goal drill, missing wide left from 43 yards and wide right from 46. He made an extra point later.
Kitchens was asked if Joseph separated himself with the perfect afternoon.
“We will evaluate that. We are a long way from that,” he said. “We are just strictly day by day until we have to decide.”
Linebacker Adarius Taylor (concussion), defensive tackle Brian Price (concussion) and cornerback Phillip Gaines (neck) were added to the injured list and didn’t practice. Taylor was injured Friday when a pass by backup quarterback Drew Stanton drilled him in the back of the helmet as he was covering a receiver.
** Defensive end Chad Thomas missed his third practice in four days with an illness. He practiced Friday.
** Defensive end/linebacker Genard Avery (ankle) worked on the side with athletic trainers after spending most of the week inside the team facility.
** Also not practicing were: tight ends Seth DeValve (concussion) and Demetrius Harris (concussion), running backs Duke Johnson (hamstring) and Trayone Gray (calf), defensive end Olivier Vernon (hamstring), defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (abdomen), receiver Damion Ratley (hamstring) and cornerback Tavierre Thomas (hamstring).
Rookie linebacker Mack Wilson had his second interception in two days, catching a high deflection on a Stanton pass over the middle. He also batted a pass at the line.
** Receiver Jaelen Strong had another nice catch and has started to come on.
** Defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale had a sack and tackle for loss.
** Tight end David Njoku and Rashard Higgins had touchdown catches.
** Former Browns receiver Greg Little was in attendance and talked to Jimmy Haslam.
** Cornerback Jermaine Ponder was waived.