Cleveland — Kareem Hunt will have to spend his NFL suspension isolated from his team.
The suspended Browns running back, who must serve an eight-game ban for physical altercations, will not be permitted inside the team’s facility starting Saturday at 4 p.m., league spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press.
The team had asked Commissioner Roger Goodell to allow Hunt to be around his teammates, arguing he could use the extra support. But to this point, Hunt will not be able to interact with his teammates or staff inside the team’s building in Berea, Ohio, until his punishment ends in November.
It’s not impossible the league could adjust its policy and amend its stance on Hunt, who was signed as a free agent by Cleveland in March, three months after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. But to this point, he’s going to be on his own.
Hunt was suspended for two violent off-field incidents, one in which he shoved and kicked a woman during a dispute in a hotel hallway. He’s eligible to return to the team in November.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was disappointed to learn Hunt won’t be present.
“It hurts him not to be around there because if you can be around your teammates, that can help you keep a positive attitude, and that definitely helps,” Mayfield said. “So that’s tough to hear.”
The 24-year-old Hunt has been practicing and playing in preseason games, and the 2017 league rushing champion is expected to be on the field Thursday night when the Browns host the Detroit Lions in their exhibition finale.
Hunt has been attending counseling sessions and said earlier this month that if he couldn’t be with his teammates he would “chill out, get good workouts and lay low.”
Although Hunt will have to stay away from the Browns, wide receiver Antonio Callaway will be allowed in the facility while serving his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Callaway was suspended earlier this month during training camp. He won’t be eligible to return until the Oct. 7 game at San Francisco. Callaway owned up to his mistake, which followed a run of off-field issues while he was in college.
On Tuesday, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said he hoped Callaway would be allowed to be with his teammates.
“If we were in fact able to do it, one of the good reasons will be because Antonio is recovering from an ankle injury,” Kitchens said. “To make sure that he gets the proper medical care and treatment, that would benefit the person as much as anything.”
Butt back under the knife
Tough-luck tight end Jake Butt said he’s opted to have arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee, a procedure scheduled for Thursday that he hopes will speed his return to the field.
Still, his 2019 season could be in jeopardy because so many Broncos players are sidelined that general manager John Elway and coach Vic Fangio will have several tough decisions to make when paring the roster to 53 players this weekend.
Butt, a third-year pro, has only played in three NFL games, all of them last season before he tore his left ACL at practice in September. He missed his rookie season in 2017 after tearing his other ACL in his final game for Michigan. He also tore his right ACL during his sophomore season in Ann Arbor.
Butt slowly worked his way back into action during the offseason this year but a week into training camp, pain and swelling in his left knee sidelined him for three weeks. He finally was able to play last weekend when he caught two passes for 17 yards against the Los Angeles Rams, declaring himself healthy afterward.
The swelling and pain returned, however, and on Wednesday he said in a Twitter post that he was going to have arthroscopic surgery to clean up his left knee.
San Francisco running back Jerick McKinnon had another setback in his return from a knee injury.
General manager John Lynch told flagship radio station KNBR McKinnon’s return to practice the previous day was “not encouraging.” Lynch said McKinnon’s recovery regressed for the third time this summer as he has tried to get back on the field.
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