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BEREA, Ohio -- After a spirited practice, the Cleveland Browns were still in a playful mood so they decided to pull a prank on one of their rookies.
The first-year cornerback, incensed over being soaked with water by some of his teammates, threw a bucket of ice and at least one errant punch during a skirmish in the Browns' locker room Friday.
As the Browns returned from practice, a dripping-wet Francies stormed into the locker room lugging a Gatorade bucket full of ice. Before he could be stopped, Francies tossed the ice on cornerback Brandon McDonald, hitting him with cubes that covered the floor.
At that point, it wasn't clear if Francies was playing along and messing with McDonald.
Then, Francies' mood, and the vibe in the room, turned more serious.
Francies flung some more ice in the direction of safety Mike Adams before heading toward safety Abram Elam's corner cubicle. With the bucket on the floor, Francies then swung his arms at Elam, who deflected the blows. Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers then stepped in, grabbed Francies by the back of the shirt and escorted him out a side door as other players came to help.
"Calm down, man," Rogers told Francies as he pushed him outside.
"Welcome to the Browns locker room!" wide receiver Braylon Edwards hollered as players rushed over to check on the commotion, which happened while the locker room was open to reporters.
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Francies returned a few minutes later and went straight to his stall at the back of the locker room, next to the equipment area. He still seemed irritated as he sat there, and Rogers, linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton and safety Brodney Pool tried to calm him down.
At the other end of the locker room, McDonald did some housekeeping in front of his stall.
"It was just guys having fun," McDonald said, whisking the ice into a dust pan with a broom. "I was the first one he saw. He got a little aggressive, (so) it's no big deal. We handled it. It's over now, and we're going to worry about the Ravens. We don't want to have any misconceptions in the locker room.
"So that's it. We took care of it, and we're moving on."
After dressing, Francies had cooled down enough to smile.
"It's all just fun and games," he said. "We were just playing around."
Later, a regretful Francies went to coach Eric Mangini's office to explain what happened and acknowledged that he had overreacted.
Mangini wanted to do some further investigating and consulted with other players and team leaders to make sure there wasn't a lingering conflict.
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"I said, 'Was there anything malicious about this? Is there something deeper here?'" Mangini said. "And to a man, they said, 'No, it was nothing like that.' He's a rookie, he's young. He should have put it in the right context. I trust the guys I talked to. I talked to him afterward, and he said, 'I should have handled it differently.'"
The Browns, who will play at Baltimore on Sunday, dropped their first two games, with second-half collapses in both. But despite the slow start, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan senses that Cleveland's players are determined to turn around their season.
"I know our guys are ready to fight," he said. "They're starting to care for each other. We're coming together. I can see it."