BEREA -- The business aspect that kept Lawrence Vickers away from his teammates the last three weeks wasn't the business Vickers was talking about Monday afternoon.
The Browns are wrapping up their spring work this week with their final OTA practices and a mandatory minicamp, the surest sign yet that real football isn't too far away. And it's that real football -- not this no-pads stuff -- that really gets Vickers going. He's thinking this is the year that the dirty work he does from the fullback position earns him enough notice to merit a Pro Bowl selection, and he hinted that he's as ready as ever to do such work.
"I'm gonna make people pay even more this year," Vickers said.
"They're gonna pay. Each year I get madder and madder that I don't go (to the Pro Bowl). It's not my fault when everybody (ends up) on their backside."
That's a not so subtle message to opposing linebackers and safeties that at least one guy is ready to pick up where he left off last December, when Vickers played some of the finest football of his four-year career in clearing a path for Jerome Harrison's record rushing finish. Like Harrison, Vickers is a restricted free agent offered a second-round tender by the Browns at the outset of free agency in March. Like every other unsigned restricted free agent except Harrison, Vickers had been staying away from the team.
He signed an injury waiver and came back Monday because he said "I was ready to work. I missed my teammates. I wanted to be back with those guys. I saw them on the Internet having fun and I was ready to come back.
"I'm gonna let my agent and the front office handle that contract stuff. I just want to play football."
A versatile guy who moves well for a player his size (250 pounds), Vickers has lined up in a variety of roles for the Browns. He was at his best last December, though, when everybody in the stadium knew the Browns were running the ball between the tackles and did it with great success anyway.
"Last year they wanted me to be a linebacker-busting machine," he said. "Whatever's needed of me, I can do it. I'm your guy."
He's also a guy who said he's found new motivation through his quest to get a long-term contract from the Browns. He had been home in Houston, and he said his high school alma mater's extra period each day devoted to athletics -- that's a true story throughout Texas -- brought him a chance to work out with the young Forest Brook players.
"It's fifth period football, and I made sure I was there every fifth period," he said. "I worked out with the younger guys and I saw where I came from. It was motivation to see the guys trying to get where I am. it only got me going more.
"I'm making everybody pay. It doesn't matter who we play against. I have to get better each year. I'm picking up from where I left off last year."
Vickers said he'd stayed up on his playbook to the point that he didn't have to miss a snap of Monday's practice. That's especially impressive considering the Browns were actually working on more than the basic run plays they had so much success with late last year, but Vickers said he'd be fine with such a gameplan again. He's going to let Drew Rosenhaus stay in touch with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert, and he's going to work on getting his legs back -- and making that first Pro Bowl.
"I think (the contract) is going to handle itself anyway," he said.
"It's out of my hands. All I have to do is get on the grass and do what I do.
"I'm gonna let (Rosenhaus) handle his business. I'm a good guy to take care of this business. Together we make a good match."
If Vickers lives up to his colorful quotes and high goals, he and whomever is toting the rock behind him come fall will make a good match as well.
Follow Zac Jackson on Twitter @FSOhioZJackson, and check out his reports on all of Cleveland's sports teams on http://www.foxsportsohio.com!