BEREA, Ohio — The NFL is investigating Cleveland Browns rookie running back James Davis' season-ending shoulder injury.
On Sunday, ESPN.com reported that Davis was injured during a recent post-practice “opportunity period” when he was hit by a Browns linebacker. According to the report, witnesses said Davis was not wearing shoulder pads while the unidentified defender who hit him had them on.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is aware of the alleged incident and has been looking into the matter.
“The review is ongoing,” Aiello said in an e-mail response to The Associated Press.
Browns coach Eric Mangini confirmed Monday that he has had discussions with the league.
“I talked to the league about it and feel comfortable with where we are on it,” Mangini said. “I like James Davis a lot. The last thing we want to do is ever put him in a position or anybody in a position where they could get hurt. I've talked to a lot of people involved in it and we're going to continue to work with the league on it.”
Mangini said the post-practice period is open to all players to get in extra work, but that it's normally attended by rookies and younger players. He said the workouts are done in a controlled environment, supervised by coaches. Mangini said he occasionally watches.
Mangini said he would never condone a situation like the one being reported.
“Never do that,” he said. “If something like that did happen, it shouldn't. Ever.”
A sixth-round draft pick from Clemson, Davis was impressive in training camp and the exhibition season. He was hurt in the season opener against Minnesota and was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 3.
Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson thought the alleged incident sounded implausible.
“That sounds crazy to me that something like that would be reported,” he said. “That doesn't make any sense to me. That wouldn't be fair to him (Davis).”
Running back Jamal Lewis, who knows Davis well, avoided any specific questions about the incident.
“Actually, I don't really know none of that,” said Lewis, who attended the same Atlanta high school as Davis. “I just know that he had hurt his shoulder in the first game. That's all I really know about.”
Mangini confirmed that Davis will need surgery but would not say if an operation has been scheduled.