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NFL Notebook: Browns owner not planning immediate changes

| Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 9:54 p.m.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) stands on the sidelines with head coach Pat Shurmur in the final moments of a 24-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

BEREA, Ohio — Jimmy Haslam III won't spend his first days as owner of the Browns handing out pink slips.

Haslam, whose $1 billion purchase of Cleveland's franchise is expected to be approved by NFL owners later this month, said Thursday through a team spokesman that he has no plans to make any personnel changes “until after the year.” At 0-4, the Browns are the only winless team in the AFC, leading to speculation that coach Pat Shurmur and his staff could be in trouble unless there's a turnaround.

But during an interview with Fox Business, Haslam noted the Browns' youth — they're the league's youngest team — and said he believes the team is improving under Shurmur and team president Mike Holmgren.

“I don't think anybody thinks 0-4 (is acceptable) and certainly Mike Holmgren and Pat Shurmur don't think it is and we don't think it is,” Haslam said in the interview. “But we've got a young team. We're building.”

Haslam, a former minority owner of the Steelers, has spent the past few weeks familiarizing himself with the Browns. He has been at several practices and was on the field before Thursday's workout speaking with Shurmur, who is just 4-16 in two seasons. The Browns have lost 10 straight games dating to last season and will visit the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (2-2) on Sunday.

Ref: G.B. coach reached out

The NFL replacement official who awarded the Hail Mary touchdown at the end of Green Bay's controversial Sept. 24 loss at Seattle said Packers coach Mike McCarthy reached out to him.

Wayne Elliott told Showtime's “Inside the NFL” that his phone didn't stop ringing for 72 hours. One of the messages left was from McCarthy.

“He called me at my house last week because he had heard I was having a rough week with all the calls and everything,” Elliott said during the segment. “Wanted (me) to know that he thought what I did — controversial and maybe he didn't agree with it — (but he thought) I handled it with class.”

USFL to return in spring 2014

The United States Football League says it will kick off its inaugural season in the spring of 2014. Plans are for a 14-game season played by eight franchises, none of which has been identified yet.

Around the NFL

McCarthy ruled two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings (groin injury) will not play against the Colts on Sunday. ... The Colts plan to honor coach Chuck Pagano by selling T-shirts, handing out wristbands and promoting a blood drive. Pagano was diagnosed last week with a form of leukemia and has been undergoing treatment at an Indianapolis hospital. ... New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks won't play in Sunday's game against Cleveland because of recurring left foot and knee problems.

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