More than three weeks since they opened training camp, the Browns had just three players completely sidelined at Sunday's practice because of injuries.
Hue Jackson was more than pleased to see his team healing at the right time, especially at some key spots.
Wide receivers Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins and Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden were among the active players at Sunday's practice, the team's first since Thursday's preseason loss to the Falcons. It wasn't necessarily the first practice back for either player, but each put himself one step closer to potentially being ready not just for Friday's dress rehearsal preseason contest at Tampa Bay, but also the two joint practices that precede it.
"The fact that they're out here first day in pads with everybody else, I think it's a good chance those guys will have an opportunity to play," Jackson said. "It's good to have them back and look forward to the rest of the week and see what they can do."
Coleman and Gordon participated in a handful of individual drills at practice last week and even warmed up in full pads before Thursday's game. Coleman, who starred in Cleveland's training camp scrimmage earlier in the month, hasn't been fully active since he was sidelined before the Orange and Brown Scrimmage because of a hamstring injury but expects that to change when the team lands in Tampa on Monday.
The first-round receiver expects to play in his first NFL game Friday against the Buccaneers.
"I think it's important. I haven't played in an NFL game," Coleman said. "I think it's important this week go and practice against Tampa and play in the game and do what I need to do."
Sunday's practice was the first of many more to come that saw Coleman, Gordon, Hawkins and Terrelle Pryor working together and moved all around the field in various ways. They're expected to make up the core of Cleveland's wide receiver unit, and Jackson was excited to see it come one step closer to reality.
"I think when we started this process with Josh and with Corey since his hamstring, our whole goal was to make sure those guys are here for consecutive days so they can practice and be with the quarterbacks and the quarterbacks can get a feel for them, they get a feel for the quarterbacks and feel for their teammates," Jackson said. "It is important for them to be out there. We'll know more as we go through the week."
Haden's return has been months in the making.
The veteran cornerback has been worked back slowly into the swing of things as training camp has progressed. He's now more than five months removed from ankle surgery, and his timeline nicely coincides with the start of joint practices.
Haden's workload will be at its highest point yet in one of the most competitive environments a team can simulate outside of actual games.
"I think it is just to be able to get some competition against another NFL team that's really just going after you," Haden said. "It's going to be some real competition and I think being able to go back full go finally against another team trying to get after it, I think it's going to be really good for me."