Browns RB Droughns returns to practice after court trip

BEREA, Ohio -- Reuben Droughns was a few minutes late for
practice on Tuesday, and the Browns didn't mind one bit. They were
just happy to have him back.

Cleveland's running back returned to the club one day after
pleading not guilty in a Colorado court on misdemeanor harassment
and domestic assault charges stemming from an argument with his

A trial for Droughns, who played his college ball at Oregon, was
set in Arapahoe County Court for Feb. 5, 2007 -- one day after the
Super Bowl.

"It went pretty good," Droughns said of his court appearance,
which took place on his 28th birthday. "The main issue was to try
and get it pushed to after the season and that's what we

Droughns said there was no attempt by his lawyer, Harvey
Steinberg, to make a plea bargain with prosecutors.

"We feel like we're going to fight this thing to the end," he

Browns coach Romeo Crennel was pleased that Droughns can
concentrate on football.

"It's good to know that his season will not be interrupted and
our season will not be interrupted with him missing time, practice
or a game," Crennel said. "The trial date was set in February and
that's good. It's probably good for him too, so he can clear his
mind a little bit as far as that situation goes. He can wait until
after the season to start worrying about it again."

Droughns is accused of throwing his wife, Kellie, to the ground
and onto a bed before throwing her outside and locking the door
during a May 12 altercation at their suburban Denver home.

Kellie Droughns has asked for the charges against her husband to
be dropped. Droughns said the district attorney's office in
Centennial, Colo., is unlikely to dismiss the case before going to

"They realized from the first day that she wanted it dropped,
but they decided to pick it up and run with their case," said
Droughns, who was asked if he felt prosecutors were making an
example of him.

"I hope that's not the case," he said. "I hope they aren't
trying to make an example out of anybody, especially me. It might
be the case though."

A message was left seeking comment from the district attorney's
office Tuesday night.

Droughns could get six to 18 months in jail if convicted of
assault and up to six months in jail on each of the harassment

Since the incident, Droughns has found comfort in being on the
field. He said getting the trial date set was somewhat of a relief.

"From the start it wasn't going to be a distraction during the
season because I'm not going to put my team in jeopardy like
that," he said. "I was trying to focus on the season regardless,
but it's a little easier now."

In his first season with the Browns, Droughns rushed for 1,232
yards on 309 carries. He is the first Cleveland back to top 1,000
yards since 1985, and his carries set a franchise record, breaking
Jim Brown's 305 in 1961.

Droughns, who earlier this year was acquitted by a jury of
drunken driving, said the past few months have given him a new
perspective on his life.

"I just got to be a hermit now," he chuckled. "My thought is
to stay focused on life and football and try to keep all the
outside problems away."