With Mike Pettine in place as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, the players are eager to begin work for the 2014 season.
Talking to ClevelandBrowns.com while in Hawaii, defensive backs Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Josh Gordon each expressed excitement about Pettine's hiring.
"It didn't matter how long it took, I was ready for us to get the right guy, and I feel like we did that," Haden said. "I'm just ready to get in and tell these guys, 'It's time to work. All that other stuff, man, it's just time for everyone to join together. Don't worry about the outside. We know what we have in-house, and we're just ready to build this team. Everybody, just come in ready to work.'"
Cameron added, "We have a leader now. We have someone we can look to, and I heard he led the league in sacks last year. I just heard he's a players' coach. Those things are really positive for us. We have a good, core group of guys that can make things happen, and we're excited to have a leader now."
According to Gordon, having Pettine, who coached against the Browns as the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills this past season, will allow the players to start building relationships with their new head coach.
"It was a big thing for us," Gordon said. "The anticipation for it was huge. Guys really want to get that camaraderie with the coach, figure out his game plan, who he's going to go with for the whole season. It's good for the team, good for the community to get somebody to get behind and support. We need that in Cleveland, and I'm glad we finally got it done.
"He gave us a really good look. That was a tough game, Buffalo, but we're glad to have him now. He's a Cleveland Brown now, and hopefully, we move forward from it and make tremendous strides."
The hiring of Pettine, a defensive-minded coach was exciting to both Haden and Ward, who have played for offensive-minded head coaches in three of their four seasons with the Browns.
"Any defensive mind is really good for me because we're going to be on the same page," Haden said. "I just can't wait to meet him, get in there and get started."
Ward added, "It's just good to know who we're working with now. The sooner, the better so we can get to work and start with a new system. I'm excited and eager to get ready. We've got a good nucleus of players, and I'm just ready to get to work.
"Defensive-minded coaches always have a special place with me being a defensive guy, but I'm very excited to meet him and get going."
GORDON, KOSAR HONORED
On Thursday, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission held its annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Banquet, and two Browns, one current and one former, walked away with some of night's biggest honors.
Gordon was named Cleveland's Professional Athlete of the Year and Browns Legend Bernie Kosar was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gordon finished 2013 with an NFL-leading 1,646 receiving yards and became the first Browns player ever to lead the league in receiving yards. He was also the first NFL player since St. Louis' Torry Holt to lead the league in both receiving yards and receiving yards per game.
Gordon won the award over Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving and PGA Tour golfer Jason Dufner.
A native of Boardman, Ohio, Kosar came to the Browns through the 1985 Supplemental Draft, and spent nearly nine of his 12 NFL seasons in Cleveland. He led the team to the AFC Championship Game on three occasions, passed for 3,000 or more yards in four of those seasons, had double-digit touchdown totals from 1986-1991, and made the Pro Bowl in 1987.
SUPER BOWL CONTINGENCY
After a storm left the metro New York and New Jersey area digging out of more than a foot of snow by Wednesday morning, reports of the NFL's contingency plan surfaced on Thursday following a declaration of emergency by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
The Chicago Tribune said the NFL's contingency plan could involve playing the Super Bowl anywhere between Friday, Jan. 31 and Monday, Feb. 3, if MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., should severe weather again reach the New York City area.