Sources: Rookie hurt without pads

Updated: October 11, 2009, 8:46 PM ET
By Adam Schefter | ESPN

Two Thursdays ago, Browns rookie running back James Davis aggravated a shoulder injury and suffered a torn labrum that now will require surgery in Alabama this week with Dr. James Andrews.

How Davis was injured is the question swirling around the league.

Two witnesses to the incident from within the Browns organization said Davis injured his shoulder in a post-practice drill in which he was not wearing pads and the linebacker that plowed into him was. Three other NFL sources corroborated the witnesses' account.

A Browns spokesman said Saturday it is not true.

Once the spokesman denied the events, the witnesses were contacted Saturday for a second time -- some for a third or fourth -- and asked about the incident again.

Each repeated the same details. Davis was injured during a pass blocking drill in what Cleveland calls a post-practice "opportunity period" when a Browns linebacker in pads "got frisky" and "trucked" Davis, who was not in pads.

The NFL has been aware of this incident and has been looking into it, a league spokesman said this weekend.

Browns coach Eric Mangini said he has spoken to the NFL about the incident.

"We talked to the league about it. Addressed it," Mangini said, following a 6-3 win over Buffalo on Sunday. "We feel very comfortable with being where we're at."

News of the accident filtered to Washington last week. The NFL Players Association called it "an outrage." It wanted to file a grievance about the incident, and still might.

However, an NFLPA source said Davis is extremely hesitant to do this out of fear for his job, and without his support it could be difficult to generate a case.

It also is uncertain what the NFLPA could grieve if the Browns pay Davis his full $310,000 base salary and try not to pay him the $215,000 on his split contract. But even if the issue were to fade away, the NFLPA is going to do what it can to make sure it doesn't.

"This is an outrage," said a high-ranking NFLPA source. "We have a no-pads rule for offseason activities. We've never seen a need to have a rule that if some guy has on pads, he can't take on a guy without pads. The commissioner's office needs to look into this."

A sixth-round pick from Clemson, Davis initially injured his shoulder during the Browns' season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings. But it was not severe enough for him to miss any time until he aggravated it and tore his labrum in the days leading up to Cleveland's game against Cincinnati.

Adam Schefter covers the NFL for ESPN NFL Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.