Joe Haden stretches before minicamp
Joe Haden understands the NFL.
He knows the Kansas City Chiefs went from 2-14 in 2012, to 11-5 and a wild card berth in 2013. He recognizes the 49ers didn't have a winning season from 2003-2010, before eventually returning a juggernaut franchise.
The Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl cornerback believes the 'clean slate theory' will apply to this year's 2014 Browns.
"There's always a chance for everyone to make a big jump," said Haden to reporters Thursday after voluntary minicamp. "Teams that don't win in previous seasons, it doesn't matter the season before. You are going to have a whole new team coming. This team is going to be completely different than it was last year."
The well documented mentality shift starts with the new head honcho in charge. Coach Mike Pettine carries a subtle yet noticeable confidence wherever he walks. And the entire program has detected it. So far, Haden thinks the first-year man is handling himself in a textbook manner.
"What I like is that he's letting the coordinators run it. He comes in and adds his two cents here and there, but a lot of things he's letting the position coaches handle what they've got to do."
Minicamp was the first time Haden was on the football field at the same time as safety Donte Whitner. The athletic duo complement each other well.
Haden shields one side of the football field with athleticism. Whitner's vicious style of hitting makes it tougher for receivers to run intermediate routes over the middle. Quarterbacks will be forced to pick their poison.
Like others in the building, the cornerback was struck with Whitner's football intellect.
"He's really smart," said Haden. "He knows concepts. He's coaching up the other safeties and the corners too, just on what he sees."
Haden isn't like his fellow teammate Joe Thomas. There will be no fishing trips scheduled on May 8th. Like every other Browns fan, the 25-year-old University of Florida alum will be glued to the television for the NFL draft.
"I'm hyped about it," Haden said with a big smile. "Whoever we get, I just hope they are ready to ball out. I'm definitely going to be locked in because it's important to know who is going to be on our team and who we are going to have."
Haden was asked about his contract situation more than a half-dozen times by reporters. He raved about the front office, specifically general manager Ray Farmer, and the city of Cleveland.
"I like it here," Haden said. "I want to start winning here. I embrace the city. I like the city and the fans. They like me here. If I start here, I want to finish here."