Cornerback Joe Haden was cleared to return to practice for the Cleveland Browns on Monday.
Haden has been rehabbing from offseason ankle surgery, which he underwent on March 18. He started training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Haden said he would ease into things, starting with individual work Monday. The decision on when he can go full speed is up to the trainers, he said.
As far as getting into games, Haden has one in mind.
“Sept. 11 is the only one that I’m really worried about,” Haden said of the season opener in Philadelphia. “If they let me get into any preseason games, that’d be sweet. But my main goal is just getting back by Sept. 11.”
Haden originally injured his left ankle in a loss to Arizona last season. He aggravated the injury in the offseason. His exact injury was never detailed.
Haden played in only five games in 2015, missing games due to a broken finger and a concussion. He said after the team’s conditioning test that he had “a very bad season,” given his expectations.
His return means much to the Browns’ defense. Haden’s man-coverage ability — he has been to two Pro Bowls — gives the defense needed flexibility.
“He’s one of our better defensive players and one of the better defensive players in the league. To get him back gives our whole defense a jolt,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said Monday.