As Jamal Lewis backtracked on his stinging comments directed at Cleveland coach Eric Mangini for overworking his players, several of the Browns gathered near the running back’s locker. One of them even stood on a nearby chair.
Soon, the Browns began a chant.
“J-Lew, J-Lew, J-Lew,’’ they hollered.
One day after Lewis’s anti-Mangini rant, he was being hailed as a hero. Maybe because he stood up to his coach.
Yesterday, Mangini defended the length and intensity of his practices after Lewis had complained that players are being worked too hard.
Lewis asserted Thursday that Mangini was wearing out his players during the week with workouts lasting 2 1/2-3 hours, and that by the time kickoff rolls around on Sunday, they have nothing left. Mangini maintains his practices are not any longer or more physical than ones he’s conducted in the past.
“I feel good about the way we practice, the time we practice,’’ said Mangini, 1-7 in his first season with Cleveland. “Two hours of work on the field is a very reasonable time. The only time that practices are extended is if we don’t execute something the right way.’’
Mangini said that he and Lewis, a captain, had a “good conversation’’ Thursday and discussed their differences.
“Like with any conversation, sometimes you agree on things, sometimes you change some things, sometimes you agree to disagree,’’ he said. “You appreciate everybody’s perspective and input and then you make the decision that you think is best for the team.’’
Following yesterday’s workout, Lewis said he appreciated the chance to meet with Mangini and said the media had twisted his comments.
“I let him know that your guys’ story was kind of blown out of proportion and it was worded and went in a certain way. But that’s how the media is,’’ Lewis said.
Lewis’s comments Thursday came a few hours before a practice squad player, defensive end Keith Grennan, sustained a serious knee injury during a postpractice “opportunity period.’’ Mangini confirmed Grennan’s injury but did not specify its nature or severity. Grennan is the second Browns player injured this year during postpractice drills; rookie running back James Davis suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.