Call it a long-awaited sight for sore eyes.
For the first time in a long time, the Browns had every member of their active roster available to participate in some form of Wednesday's practice. A handful were limited and a few others will need to be evaluated as the week unfolds to determine whether they'll be available Sunday against the Texans, but it was a nice place to be as the Browns eye the second half of their season.
"Have to have a great week of practice," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "We have a really good football team coming into our building."
After welcoming back a number of players Monday, including RB Nick Chubb and G Wyatt Teller, the Browns brought back a couple of more Wednesday. QB Baker Mayfield was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, G Joel Bitonio (elbow) returned as a limited participant after resting Monday and T Jack Conklin was back from an excused absence.
Stefanski said the team will have a better idea on the status of Chubb and Teller — both of whom have been sidelined for weeks — near the end of the week. Both came out of Monday's practice in good shape but will need to continue to do so in order to return against the Texans.
Stefanski said he would consult with Chubb and the team's medical staff about his expected workload in the event he's able to return.
As for Mayfield, Stefanski said he was "confident" the quarterback would be able to rejoin the team Wednesday after going on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday. Mayfield made the most of his days away from the facility and came back prepared.
"He made sure that Monday and Tuesday he was spending a lot of time in meetings virtually, watching a lot of tape and preparing to play a solid game this week," Stefanski said.
Mayfield said he wasn't too concerned when he learned Sunday he'd be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He just continued to work and counted down the days until he was able to return to the facility.
"It kind of 'is what it is' circumstances," Mayfield said. "You deal with it and roll with the punches; I can't control it. So, if I was worried about controlling it then yeah, I would say it would have been stressful but like I said, it is what it is and luckily I was able to get back in the building and get back to work."
Had the Browns played Sunday, Mayfield would have been sidelined. Fortunately, the team was on a bye, and Mayfield didn't miss any time. His situation, though, heightens the awareness of doing everything possible to maintain a COVID-free environment.
"It is a full effort from everybody. Not only just players, but staff, families of staff, families of players," Mayfield said. "Everybody has a hand in the pot, and it is so true because of the close contacts. It is not just if you have COVID. It is if you have been around somebody, immediately you can be out for a few days. And where it hits in a week it can be critical to a game or not."
Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel, who is serving as the Texans' interim coach, will be on the opposite sidelines Sunday. He was asked Wednesday to reflect on the 2007 season, when the Browns went 10-6 — the team's best record of the new era — but fell just short of making the playoffs.
Crennel lamented the Browns' Week 16 loss to the Bengals, a game that would have put Cleveland in position to win the division.
"They beat us in a windy, cold game," Crennel said. "It put us into the tiebreaker scenario at the end of the season where we had to depend on other guys to help us get to the playoffs. They did not care about us and so they took care of themselves and then we were sitting at home."