Jimmy Haslam OK with Browns adding Ray Rice; GM calls talk 'premature'

CLEVELAND -- Owner Jimmy Haslam has signed off on the Cleveland Browns adding running back Ray Rice, but the football people will decide if it happens. And they are a long way from making that judgment.

“Right now I’d say it’s all premature in my mind,” general manager Ray Farmer said before Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Redskins. “We’re interested in seeing what our young guys can do. Focused on them. Giving them the opportunity to demonstrate whether they can or they can’t.

“I think we’ve got some talented young guys. Ray’s had his career. We kind of know what he is. We think we know. There’s a lot of tape.”

Farmer acknowledged that Rice’s name has come up in discussions.

“But like everybody else’s name. Like Pierre Thomas. There’s a bunch of guys whose names have come up,” Farmer said.

Haslam told ESPN’s Bob Holtzman he’d like to see Rice get another chance, and he’s OK if that’s with the Browns. But Haslam added that the decision would be made by his football people.

Earlier in the week, coach Mike Pettine said the team had discussed Rice in light of the fact none of the team’s young backs seized the job. Pettine, too, added the team was not to the point of reaching out to Rice yet.

Rice has not played since the 2013 season, when he averaged 3.1 yards per carry for the Baltimore Ravens.

He was suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for hitting his girlfriend (now wife Janay) in an elevator. When video of the incident surfaced, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and he did not play the entire season.

The Browns have two second-year backs in Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, who combined for more than 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns in their rookie seasons.

They also have rookie Duke Johnson, but he has not practiced since Aug. 1 after pulling a hamstring.

Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery expressed disappointment last week that none of the young backs had seized the starting job.