Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Takeaways from Browns golf outing and interviews …
To say that Kareem Hunt has been born again would be trite, but he has.
He was baptized on Sunday in True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in the Glenville neighborhood – an act both spiritual and symbolic, another step in the process of Hunt seeking redemption from past bad decisions.
Coach Freddie Kitchens and GM John Dorsey – Hunt’s two staunchest advocates – surprised him by showing up at his baptism.
“We went there for Kareem Hunt the person, not the football player,” Kitchens said. “I just know we wanted to make sure he felt supported as a person.”
The 2017 NFL rushing champion with the Kansas City Chiefs hasn’t even made it to Browns training camp yet, but already he’s a candidate for NFL comeback player-of-the-year.
His career appeared destroyed in November when video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a 19-year-old woman outside his apartment at The 9 in downtown Cleveland. Hunt was released by the playoff-bound Chiefs and then was rescued by the Browns in February.
Hunt was suspended by the NFL for eight games to begin the 2019 season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has indicated he may lift some restrictions for Hunt if he continues to comply with the NFL-prescribed path to reinstatement.
Hunt has been a model citizen since Dorsey – who drafted him in 2017 as GM of the Chiefs – signed him in a controversial move. Hunt has been attending counseling sessions twice a week and has made unadvertised visits to area schools to preach kids not to make the bad choices he has made.
“One of the truest forms of bravery is showing your scars,” Kitchens said. “You show your scars so people don’t make the same mistakes you make. Kareem’s done an exceptional job of showing his scars in public and in some of these schools he’s visited with, without any advertisement at all.
“He’s chosen to do that so maybe some other kids in his surroundings doesn’t make the same mistakes. To me, that’s the ultimate sign of bravery and unselfishness, showing your scars so people can learn from them.”
Hunt also has bonded with running back Nick Chubb, who stands to lose playing time when Hunt is reinstated in November. How will the Browns incorporate both backs into the offense during what could be a run to the playoffs?
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like yet, but we have somewhat of a plan,” Kitchens said with a small chuckle.
Hunt was one of the biggest names on the Browns to participate in the club’s charity golf outing at Westwood Country Club on Monday.
Oh, those OTAs: Defenders of non-participants in OTAs continue to justify their absence by insisting the organized team activities are protected in the CBA as “voluntary.”
But you won’t be hearing a team leader like Baker Mayfield join that argument.
In a rare appearance on Cleveland radio, Mayfield said on the Really Big Show on 850 WKNR that participation in Browns OTAs is “really important.”
“You’re not going to have the timing and everything down,” Mayfield said. “But it’s important to get the scheme down, [to] see what type of team we want to be, where we can go. Just really be together, grow as a team, get to learn more about each other and just be around.
“Stuff you can really count on later on in the year. It happens and it builds right now.”
The Browns return to the field on Tuesday for the second of three weekly sessions. Kitchens said that new stuff is added each week.
“We continue to have [installations of offensive and defensive schemes] and build our installs each week,” he said. “This Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday will be different than last week and then the following week [of four OTA practices] will be different.
“You kind of built your library of situations one, plays you’ve installed two, and defenses that you’ve covered and game-type situations you build. Then go back and hit some other ones during the mandatory minicamp [Jun 4-6], then everyone feels like they’ve got a base of what everything we’re going to do.”
Odell Beckham Jr. made one OTA last week, and then departed. Duke Johnson, who wants to be traded, missed all three sessions. Their attendance this week is uncertain.
Now teams can sign McCoy to a cheaper deal. The Browns may be interested, but there should be plenty of competition.
McCoy reportedly wants to latch on to a playoff contender rather than break the bank on a new contract. A couple of playoff contenders may consider McCoy a starting tackle (Saints, Cowboys, Patriots, Rams). With the Browns, McCoy would be a third tackle behind Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi.
I would expect the Browns to show interest, but I think McCoy eventually will land elsewhere.