Greetings from the Cleveland Browns Stadium press box, where we look out over a field that was once fully blanketed by a massive orange tarpaulin, but is now being gradually revealed as the 6800-plus square-foot covering is removed piece-by-piece by a staff of 20.
The game might not be a homecoming for the former Browns-turned-Broncos, but it is at the very least a return to the old workplace, and for Gerard Warren, that meant exchanging greetings with stadium security personnel as he walked to the Denver locker room.
Warren played four seasons in Cleveland. Defensive end Kenard Lang played just as many, joining the Browns in 2002 and remaining there until after last season — when he played outside linebacker as he attempted to adapt to a 3-4 scheme.
That makes him the only one of the Broncos’ six former Browns on the 53-man roster to have shared a locker room with running back Reuben Droughns after he was traded from Denver to Cleveland.
“I got used to hitting him in practice and stuff, so it’s going to be kind of unique,” Lang said. “Hopefully I can talk to him a little bit while I’m hitting.”
And the in-scrum verbiage might include:
“‘Oh, I told you I’d be coming. I’m right here,’” Lang said. “Probably I’d tell him I’ll keep whispering in his ear for the rest of the night. That’s what I want to tell him. So if I’m doing that, it means I’m tackling.”
Just as Lang expects Droughns will hear from him, he expects to hear from the fans.
“Cleveland fans are so hard core and dedicated to the team that I wouldn’t be surprised if I get booed, because that’s just how they are,” Lang said. “I’m just going with whatever happens, happens.”
And whatever happens, in Lang’s mind, is just another game.
“We just look at coming back to Cleveland as just having another game and going out there to make things happen,” he said.