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Browns cornerback Joe Haden misses practice

Browns cornerback Joe Haden misses practice

BEREA, Ohio (AP) The Browns couldn't win without Joe Haden. They may have to try again.

Haden missed practice on Thursday with an oblique injury, and Cleveland may be missing its top cornerback - and arguably its best defensive player - on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Haden, who was suspended four games by the NFL earlier this season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, got hurt during a drill in Wednesday's practice. He stayed on the field and was listed as ``limited'' on the Browns' injury report, but he did not participate at all on Thursday and his status for this week's game remains uncertain.

It's another setback for Cleveland's defense, which has been ravaged by injuries all season. Starting tackle Ahtyba Rubin is expected to return this week after missing three games with a calf injury, but if Haden can't play, the Browns will again be forced to adjust.

``When anyone's down, especially a starter, it hurts,'' safety T.J. Ward said. ``Not having Joe will hurt us, but the next guy just has to step up. That's how it's been all year. We haven't had our complete defense on the field at any point. It just seems like everyone's starting to get back and Joe, I won't say he went down, but he hasn't been practicing. Hopefully we can have him this weekend.''

Haden would likely be responsible for covering Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who has 45 catches for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

While Haden served his suspension for testing positive for the stimulant Adderall, the Browns went 0-4. They're 2-2 since he returned and Haden's presence has not only bolstered Cleveland's secondary, but he has forced opposing teams to game plan differently.

Cleveland's secondary is already missing cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who has been sidelined the past four games with a severe ankle injury and has not yet been cleared to practice.

It's just been that kind of season for the Browns, who have lost starting linebackers Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita to season-ending injuries and played the first eight games without massive defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who was sidelined after tearing a chest muscle while lifting weights during the offseason.

``It would be nice to see everybody out there at the same time,'' safety Usama Young said. ``It's one of those things with football, you've always got to work through, though. You're going to have guys go down and if you're going to be a good football team, you've got to have guys step in and play at a high level. Hopefully, guys are back, but you can't even dwell on it. If you're going to be good, you've got to look past it and get the next guy in line.''

Buster Skrine would take Haden's starting spot and rookie Trevin Wade will likely get playing time at nickel back if Haden can't go.

Cornerback Sheldon Brown said the Browns can't worry about missing one player.

``We need everybody on Sunday,'' he said. ``If the quarterback is running backward, then it really doesn't matter who's in the backend. Bottom line is we need every man.''

The Browns simply weren't the same when Haden wasn't in the lineup. Quarterbacks didn't have to worry about throwing to his side of the field, and several of Cleveland's young defensive backs were exposed.

Haden was missed - badly - and his absence showed his value to the Browns.

``I didn't gain an appreciation for him because I know how talented he is,'' Young said. ``I've been watching him since his first year and now playing alongside him, you see how talented he is. In this game, when guys go down, you've got to have guys that are going to step up and play at a high level. We look forward to that on defense. We've got some young boys that are hungry, ready to play. Hopefully (Haden) will play, but we don't know yet.''

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NOTES: Browns rookie WR Josh Gordon is appealing a $20,000 fine for a block the NFL deemed as a blindside hit on Ravens safety Ed Reed on Nov. 4. Gordon was flagged for a 15-yard penalty. ``They told me it wasn't a helmet-to-helmet hit,'' Gordon said. ``It was just that he wasn't looking. He never looked my way at all. We were confused about it for a while and we still are because that's my blocking responsibility, and if I wouldn't have done it, our runner would have gotten tackled for a loss. If you don't make a play, Coach is going to look at you like, `What's going on?''' ... Special teamer Ray Ventrone was limited in practice with what the Browns listed as a ``hand/calf'' injury. Ventrone missed one game earlier this season with a broken thumb that required surgery.

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Online:http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.