Browns break out the boxing gloves
Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert, left, shows off his boxing gloves while defending against wide receiver Miles Austin during practice Tuesday in Berea, Ohio.
The Browns are ready to rumble.
To prepare for the NFL’s crackdown on defensive holding this season, the team is making its cornerbacks and safeties wear boxing gloves during training camp practices. The smaller, mittenlike gloves used by kickboxers and in mixed martial arts are meant to deter players from latching onto jerseys of wide receivers, an allowable tactic in the past but one that will draw a penalty flag now.
When he first saw the padded gloves, Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden didn’t know what to think.
“I came out and we had boxing gloves on,” Haden said. “It was crazy.”
Not long after putting them on, Haden was beaten on a long pass by wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who came back on his route to haul in a throw from rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Haden tried to get his hand on the ball, but the glove didn’t allow him to tip it away. Haden, though, understands the cross-sport technology.
“With the way they’re calling the game so tight now, they want to make sure we can’t grab or put our hands on a receiver,” he said.
Browns coach Mike Pettine hopes the gloves can help retrain defensive backs from clutching and snatching anything they get their hands on.
“You’ve got to get guys out of that habit,” he said. “It’s more the mentality that they know they have to be able to cover more with an open palm than grabbing and restricting, especially if the rule is going to be called as tightly as we’re told it is.”
During a scrimmage in Akron on Saturday, nickel back Buster Skrine and safety Johnson Bademosi were both penalized for holding. As tight end Gary Barnidge came out of a break on a pass route, Bademosi grabbed a handful of his jersey and got busted. Skrine, too, was too hands-on during coverage and was flagged by the officials.
Those infractions, and a warning issued by the league at the start of camp, caused the Browns to, well, think outside the box and break out the gloves.
Bears suspend TE: Tight end Martellus Bennett has been suspended indefinitely by the Bears after an altercation in practice the day before.
General manager Phil Emery says the team “made a decision to fine and suspend Martellus Bennett for an undetermined length of time,” though he wouldn’t specify the amount of the fine.
On Monday, Bennett was taken to the ground Monday with a grab to the shoulder by rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. The play occurred during a full-pad scrimmage when players are not supposed to be taken to the ground. Bennett responded by getting up, grabbing the first-round draft pick and slamming him to the ground.
Emery wouldn’t go into specifics about why the decision was made, saying only, “He was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.”
‘Meanest Man’ in football dead: Ed Sprinkle, a star defensive end for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s and ’50s who was called the “meanest man” in football, has died. He was 90.
He died July 28 in the Chicago suburb of Palos Heights, daughter Susan Withers said.
Sprinkle played for the Bears from 1944 to 1955 under coach George Halas, including the 1946 championship team. Sprinkle was elected to the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.
Despite being 200 pounds, Sprinkle was labeled the “meanest man” in football in a Collier’s magazine article in 1950. He was nicknamed “The Claw” for using his forearm to deliver blows to opponents. He leveled plenty of quarterbacks, although it was hard to say how many because he played long before such statistics were kept.
Saints’ owner treated and released: Saints owner Tom Benson wastreated and released from a hospital after he had trouble breathing while watching practice.
Team spokesman Greg Bensel says the 87-year-old Benson is “fine” after being given oxygen. Bensel said doctors at a hospital put Benson through a series of tests and “did not find any issues or complications.”
Bensel says Benson apparently has struggled with the altitude and dehydration at times during training camp in the Allegheny Mountains. The Saints’ practice fields are at an elevation of about 2,000 feet, whereas much of New Orleans is at sea level.
Benson also was treated for similar dehydration symptoms on July 29, but hasn’t missed any training camp practices, which began on July 25.