Joe Haden seems pretty happy these days.
He and his wife, Sarah, are expecting a baby boy. He's finally out of the walking boot he's had to lug around for two months now following an unexpected ankle surgery in March. And he thinks new Browns coach Hue Jackson has brought a new energy to Berea, a sentiment echoed by so many of his teammates this offseason.
"I say this to everybody who asks me," the Pro Bowl cornerback said Wednesday, "I think Coach Hue is the best thing that's happened since I've been here. Everything's going in the right direction."
To be sure, the Browns remain very much a work in progress, and Jackson will be the first to tell you that as they continue their first week of OTAs. Jackson continues to reiterate a theme of working hard and making incremental progress.
But there's a sense around here, Haden said, that the Browns are in the early stages of something good. So when asked about the good vibes surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers — who obliterated the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night — and a desire to deliver a similar joy on the football field, Haden couldn't help but flash a wide smile.
"That's not even a real question," Haden said, laughing. "You know the answer to that."
The Browns took to the practice fields for Day 2 of OTAs - just the second day the rookies and veterans work on field together. (All photos by John Reid)
Indeed, Haden — the Maryland native who's called Cleveland his home since 2010 — gets what it would mean for the Browns to compete for championships.
"I saw that 'Believeland' thing and it just made me — I embrace Cleveland, I want to be, feel like I am a part of Cleveland," he said of the ESPN documentary that aired Saturday.
"When I was in Maryland, I didn't really have a football team to really support so just coming here, seeing how the fans are, seeing how much they really, really love and support the team. They just want a winner and they stay behind the Browns even though we keep taking all these Ls."
Haden said he thinks the Browns have the ability to turn things around.
"I feel like with the team we have now, with the coaching staff we have now, it's an opportunity. Everybody has an opportunity to change that, to make this thing special," he said.
"I talk with (Cavs forward) Tristan Thompson all the time, he knows if the Browns were winning like the Cavs are, it'd be a whole different vibe — not to knock it at all — but it just is what it is.
"So just being able to know how much love they show the Cavs and how the fans much they still support the Browns even though we haven't given them anything to be proud of it just shows that when we do it's going to be special."
"We honestly and seriously do know that."
But it'll take a lot of hard work as the Browns roster takes shape.
"We don't have any egos, it's just everybody fighting for a spot, everybody trying to get better, nobody feels entitled to anything," Haden said. "With that atmosphere and that vibe, you don't have a choice than other to get better."