Browns suspend Moeller
BEREA (AP) — Just as the Browns began preparing for their season opener, offensive line coach Andy Moeller was suspended by the team for an unspecified incident over the weekend.
Moeller, who is in his second season with Cleveland following six in Baltimore, has a history of alcohol-related cases. He was suspended two games by the NFL and fined $47,000 in 2011 following a drunken driving conviction.
Moeller was at the team’s facility for the walk-through Monday morning. As the team wrapped up practice, the Browns released a statement on Moeller’s suspension.
“Over the weekend, Andy was involved in an incident, involving allegations that we take very seriously,” the statement said. “We have followed our internal protocol, determining that right now it is best for the team and for Andy to take time away from the organization to focus on his personal matters.
“We are going to respect the process of investigation on this personal matter and will have no further comment at this time.”
The team did not provide any other details. A phone message was left with Berea police.
Coach Mike Pettine said assistant coach George DeLeone will take over the offensive line in Moeller’s absence.
It’s not an ideal start to the season for the Browns, who will open at the New York Jets on Sunday. General manager Ray Farmer on Monday began serving his four-game suspension for sending text messages to the sideline, and star wide receiver Josh Gordon has been banned for a year following multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Pettine refused to discuss the larger implications to a rough start to the season.
“My focus is on the New York Jets,” he said. “We’re in a game week. Our goal is to go 1-0. I don’t have time to sit here and reflect on big picture. Our focus is very narrow.”
Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said Moeller addressed his linemen and told them a little about his situation. Thomas is confident his group won’t be adversely affected by the suspension.
“I think if it’s going to happen to any group,” Thomas said, “not that it’s good that it happened to the O-line, but the amount of guys in the offensive line room that have started a lot of games, have played a lot of football, are really smart guys, that will really help make sure we don’t miss a beat.”
Right guard John Greco said the line’s cohesion should help it overcome the loss of a position coach.
“We have been in this system two years together now so we have all the groundwork in place,” he said. “We have a full season under our belt from last year. Everything we have done this camp and the preseason is just going to carry over into the season.
“It is different each week with game plans and the specific game plans, but we will be able to do that with the coaches we have in there now and the players that we have. We will be able to keep going forward.”
With Moeller coaching the line, the Browns finished fourth in the league with 17 rushing TDs last season after getting just four the previous year. Also, Thomas was selected to his eighth Pro Bowl and the unit had to adjust after Pro Bowl center Alex Mack sustained a broken right leg in Week 6.
Moeller played and coached at Michigan.
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