By Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

The Browns are getting healthy and just in time to hop on a plane to spend the week with the Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida.

Left tackle Joe Thomas (back), receiver Andrew Hawkins (hamstring), defensive end John Hughes (personal/non-injury related) and quarterback Austin Davis all returned to practice Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile cornerback Joe Haden (ankle) and receiver Josh Gordon (quadriceps) received extended reps with their respective starting units.

Head coach Hue Jackson is hopeful he’ll see them all play Friday night.

“That’s my plan,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, the fact that they’re out here first day and in pads with everybody else, I think there is a good chance those guys will have an opportunity to play. It’s good to have them back and look forward to the rest of the week and see what they can do.”

The Browns and Buccaneers will practice in pads Tuesday morning and Wednesday’s practice won’t be as intense. Jackson would like to make joint practices an annual tradition.

“I’d like to if we can find a willing partner,” Jackson said. “Anytime you can go against another team, another organization and get a chance evaluate your team in a different light – we see our guys against our guys all the time – to evaluate them against somebody else is always fun, different and it’s a true evaluation more so than going against the same guys all the time.”

A Lot Of Work To Do – Inside linebacker Demario Davis, signed as a free agent this offseason, has already established himself as one of the leaders on defense.

The defensive performance in Thursday night’s preseason game was so bad he called his teammates in for film study on their off day Friday. When asked to evaluate the unit following Sunday’s practice he didn’t mice words.

“The thing I see is that we have a long way to go,” Davis said. “We’re doing some things well, but there is still tremendous room for improvement just in the run game, in the pass game and creating turnovers and getting after the quarterback in the red zone, in short-yard situations, just tremendous room for us to get better, which is good.

“We still have time to get it right, but that window of opportunity is closing. Our coaches are telling us everything right. The players are committed. We just have to and each individual player has to keep working on their craft and getting better, keep getting better and be ready, especially in Week 1.”

Other than that, things are going well.

Great Expectations – With being a first round pick comes great expectations. Last year’s No. 12 overall selection Danny Shelton knows it but he’s yet to live up to them.

Despite a new diet and offseason training, Shelton still has yet to show himself to be the force he’s supposed to be in the middle of the defensive line prompting the defensive coaching staff to push him harder.

“They’re expecting more and at the same time I’m expecting more as well,” Shelton said.

The first- and second-team defense has been gashed in the first half of their first 2 preseason games against Green Bay and the Falcons. They’ve surrendered 25 first downs, 145 rushing yards and 417 total yards in 79 plays combined.

“That always hits me and even last year it always hit me. I’m always the guy who think higher of our defense and thinks higher of himself,” Shelton said. “I need to be at a certain level and the defense needs to be at a certain level. When we don’t perform like that, it hurts me, but at the same time, it’s given us the opportunity to respond, given us an opportunity to regroup as a defense and find these little things that we need to work on and continue to grow.

“I think it’s a good thing for us and I’m excited to see how we do against Tampa.”

Sticky Situation – Cornerback Joe Haden is good friends with K’Waun Williams, who is serving a 2-week suspension handed down by the team for multiple violations of team rules last week, and was asked to comment on the situation.

“I really don’t really know too much of the situation. I just hope that everything clears out,” Haden said. “Just a tough situation. Some people, you gotta really love this to be here. It’s a lot of hours, a lot of things you have to put into it and if you’re not all-in to it, then it’s not no one’s place to tell you what you want to do. I’m here for K’Waun whatever he wants to do, but we’ve just got to keep moving on with who we’ve got here.”

Williams refused to play against the Packers and left the team for a few days. He also received a second opinion on an ankle injury sustained during the team’s scrimmage that suggested he undergo surgery to remove bone spurs which contradicted the original diagnosis.

Roster Move – The Browns signed receiver Josh Boyce and waived/injured receiver Dennis Parks.

Boyce is his second season out of TCU and was originally selected by New England in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He’s appeared in 10 games with three starts totaling 9 catches for 121 yards.

Roll Call – RB Glenn Winston (shoulder), CB Trey Caldwell (hamstring), Nile Lawrence-Stample (shoulder), WR Ricardo Louis (hamstring) and CB K’Waun Williams (suspended) did not practice.

RB Duke Johnson left practice early with a trainer. “We’re just going to check him. He just got tagged one time. I think he’ll be alright,” Jackson said.

Up Next – Browns travel to Tampa Bay Monday. Practice with the Buccaneers Tuesday and Wednesday morning.


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