With the arrival of Johnny Manziel and return of LeBron James, the Browns feel a special buzz around the city.


BEREA, Ohio -- Over the last three months, Cleveland has gone from a town with teams scratching and clawing to win games to a city at the epicenter of the sports universe because of the return of basketball star LeBron James and the Cleveland Browns' drafting of former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

As the Browns continue their preparations for the 2014 season with training camp, the players feel Cleveland is a sports city on the rise.

"Stuff like this doesn't happen. That's why it's time for a change," said Browns safety Donte Whitner, a Cleveland native. "We're from here in Northeast Ohio. LeBron is from Northeast Ohio. We get Johnny here.

"It's a lot of excitement, man and I think we pretty much deserve it. I think that a lot of people kick us around a lot, talk a lot of trash about us, but we deserve it. Hopefully, we can go out there and put some wins on the board, Cavs put some wins on the board, Indians put some wins on the board, and we'll have a happy time."

While the players from the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers are focused on their own missions of winning games and competing for postseason invitations, there is a mutual respect and appreciation for the support shown, which was demonstrated by James' visit to Thursday's training-camp practice in Berea.

"There's a big buzz with LeBron coming back, and there's obviously a big buzz surrounding our team, but we like it," offensive lineman John Greco said. "We want to put together a good preseason and give the fans something to get excited about and cheer about. We want to improve each week in the preseason and get ready to go into the regular season."

The excitement level within the Browns' locker room is increasing because the preseason starts Saturday night against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, and they hope a successful exhibition slate will springboard them to a good regular season.

"There's a lot of excitement going around, but like I said before, with the Cleveland Browns, this is just preseason excitement," Whitner said. "The only way you carry this on is to do your job, do what you're supposed to do, put a good (product) on the field on Sunday, come away with the wins and then, we can continue to keep that excitement.

"I think the excitement that LeBron and the (Cavaliers) have is a little more warranted because he's gone out there and he's won games everywhere he has (gone).We have to continue to keep this going, and that's what we plan on doing."

Back in 2007, James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, and that was quickly followed up by the Indians' appearance in the American League Championship Series. The success did not stop there, as the Browns posted a 10-6 record and went into the last week of the regular season with a chance at the postseason.

And those in the orange and brown believe the competition between the teams to be the first to break a 50-year championship drought leads to good things for the city.

"It's hard to explain when it happens, but I think it kind of gets fed through the fans with the teams," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "I don't know how many of them are connecting with each other, but the city gets revved up and I think you can have momentum from season to season."

Seven-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Joe Thomas added, "You have to have a good team, first and foremost. That's going to be our main goal, but I definitely feel like you get the fans excited. The Indians' fans are the same fans as the Browns' fans, and I think that atmosphere can definitely help when you play at home. I think it can kind of spill over to everything you do with the franchise. You bring a little optimism in, and I think that can make a little bit of a difference."

Read or Share this story: http://on.wkyc.com/1nwYEVI