Browns RB Droughns returns to practice after court trip
BEREA, Ohio -- Reuben Droughns was a few minutes late for practice on Tuesday, and the Browns didn't mind one bit. They were just happy to have him back.
Cleveland's running back returned to the club one day after pleading not guilty in a Colorado court on misdemeanor harassment and domestic assault charges stemming from an argument with his wife.
A trial for Droughns, who played his college ball at Oregon, was set in Arapahoe County Court for Feb. 5, 2007 -- one day after the Super Bowl.
"It went pretty good," Droughns said of his court appearance, which took place on his 28th birthday. "The main issue was to try and get it pushed to after the season and that's what we accomplished."
Droughns said there was no attempt by his lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, to make a plea bargain with prosecutors.
"We feel like we're going to fight this thing to the end," he said.
Goaded into participating in the long-drive competition at a charity golf tournament in the spring of 2005, Charlie Frye decided to muscle up for any of the good-natured hecklers who had questioned his strength. Paid to endorse Nike products, the then-rookie quarterback grabbed the company's new Ignite driver from his bag, ripped a monumental shot of nearly 340 yards, and took home the trophy.
"Yeah, I can hit 'em long," Frye said with a laugh after Wednesday afternoon's training camp practice here. "When I hit 'em straight."
• To read more of Len Pasquarelli's take on the Browns, click here.
Browns coach Romeo Crennel was pleased that Droughns can concentrate on football.
"It's good to know that his season will not be interrupted and our season will not be interrupted with him missing time, practice or a game," Crennel said. "The trial date was set in February and that's good. It's probably good for him too, so he can clear his mind a little bit as far as that situation goes. He can wait until after the season to start worrying about it again."
Droughns is accused of throwing his wife, Kellie, to the ground and onto a bed before throwing her outside and locking the door during a May 12 altercation at their suburban Denver home.
Kellie Droughns has asked for the charges against her husband to be dropped. Droughns said the district attorney's office in Centennial, Colo., is unlikely to dismiss the case before going to trial.
"They realized from the first day that she wanted it dropped, but they decided to pick it up and run with their case," said Droughns, who was asked if he felt prosecutors were making an example of him.
"I hope that's not the case," he said. "I hope they aren't trying to make an example out of anybody, especially me. It might be the case though."
A message was left seeking comment from the district attorney's office Tuesday night.
Droughns could get six to 18 months in jail if convicted of assault and up to six months in jail on each of the harassment charges.
Since the incident, Droughns has found comfort in being on the field. He said getting the trial date set was somewhat of a relief.
"From the start it wasn't going to be a distraction during the season because I'm not going to put my team in jeopardy like that," he said. "I was trying to focus on the season regardless, but it's a little easier now."
In his first season with the Browns, Droughns rushed for 1,232 yards on 309 carries. He is the first Cleveland back to top 1,000 yards since 1985, and his carries set a franchise record, breaking Jim Brown's 305 in 1961.
Droughns, who earlier this year was acquitted by a jury of drunken driving, said the past few months have given him a new perspective on his life.
"I just got to be a hermit now," he chuckled. "My thought is to stay focused on life and football and try to keep all the outside problems away."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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