Browns' Dawson, Jackson, Cribbs arrive at camp still seeking new deals

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns have a small cluster of players who were happy to show up for the start of new coach Eric Mangini's mandatory minicamp Thursday, even though they're far from pleased with their contracts.

Kicker Phil Dawson, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs are all seeking new deals.

Jackson, who's entering the final year of his contract, hasn't let it stop him from practicing, but Cribbs skipped some voluntary workouts last month before eventually reporting.

Dawson's appearance Thursday was his first since the end of last season. He skipped the voluntary workouts last month to protest his contract, which pays him $1 million this season and next. One of the NFL's most accurate kickers, Dawson wants to be paid like one.

The Cincinnati Bengals tagged Shayne Graham as their franchise player in February, assuring him a salary of $2.483 million -- the average salary of the top five kickers in the NFL last season. Dawson will make less than half of that.

Dawson returned to the Browns' rain-soaked practice field Thursday, but not to talk money.

"I'm not going to get into all of that," Dawson said. "I'm here today, and it's good to see my teammates again. There's a time and place for all that, but now is not it."

Dawson heads into the 2009 season with a career 82.8 percent field-goal percentage, the best mark in franchise history and fourth all-time in the NFL.

With Dawson absent from the voluntary workouts, the Browns signed South Dakota State rookie kicker Parker Douglass to a two-year deal. Douglass has impressed at times and flashed a powerful leg, but Mangini was pleased to have Dawson back in camp.

"He looked good in the field-goal drill," Mangini said. "It's good to have everybody back. It's good to be operating with a full group."

Jackson is scheduld to make $640,000 next season after his 154 tackles last season led the NFL. But Jackson participated in the voluntary workouts, saying he needed to be at all the camps to prove his worth to the new coaching staff.

"It's what I produce on the field," Jackson said. "These coaches don't know me from anybody. All they know is some tape. They don't know what kind of person I am. They don't know how I conduct myself. It's my duty as a player to come in and show what I am capable of. Am I worth what I say I am?"

Despite rain that turned heavy at times, Mangini kept Thursday's two-hour morning session outdoors. Eight Green Berets who were invited by the coach watched the practice.

There also were a few players who were just observing. Running back Jamal Lewis, who has been held out for most of the offseason drills, is still taking it slow following offseason ankle surgery.

Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who made the Pro Bowl two seasons ago but slipped in 2008, also spent Thursday's practice on a stationary bike with an undisclosed injury. Both Edwards and Mangini said it wasn't serious, and the coach added that the wide receiver is expected to fully participate in training camp in July.

"Coach Mangini is just taking precaution," Edwards said. "I'm just enjoying my time on the side. It's on coach's terms right now."

Looking to add depth to the secondary, the Browns had former Chicago Bears safety Mike Brown in for a visit this week. Brown went to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and started 15 games last season before being placed on injured reserve.

"Mike is a guy I have watched for a long time," Mangini said. "With any of these guys we bring in, sometimes we sign them right away, sometimes it's during training camp and sometimes we don't. It's to gather information and to be able to put ourselves in a position to make decisions."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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