Kenny Roda from WKNR SportsTalk 850 will be writing a weekly blog on Cleveland Scores covering the sports world both locally and nationally. Check back often for his updates!
The 3rd pre-season game in the NFL is the one that is considered the most important of the meaningless games. Why? Because it’s the game where the starters play their most minutes and hope to get their timing down with each other so they’re ready for the regular season opener. A 20-17 win for the Browns, even though it was against one of the worst teams in the league in the Bills, is still a step forward. With that in mind, here’s a look at what players are ready, who’s not, and some I’m not sure of yet, as the Browns near their September 10th regular season opener against the New Orleans Saints.
Call’ em butter…they’re on a roll
CB Leigh Bodden – From what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, is the camp MVP this year. The only starting corner who’s healthy and impressed every time he was on the field.
RB Jerome Harrison – In my opinion this fifth-round pick out of Washington St. has impressed enough to be the back-up to starter Rueben Droughns. He’s averaged nearly 7 yards per touch, gets into the end zone and can run and catch it. Could be one of the top steals of the draft. Kudos to Phil Savage!
TE Steve Heiden – Everyone has been focused on the “Chosen One” Kellen Winslow Jr.
Heiden has quietly made plays catching, scoring and blocking on offense. Should Winlsow be limited in his playing time or, heaven forbid, something happen to #80, Heiden has proven to me he can be a starter if needed in the NFL.
DT Ted Washington – Here’s hoping there’s enough gas left in his huge tank to get as many miles out of this run stopper as possible. He’s become Andra Davis’ best friend, allowing Davis to go sideline to sideline and run free. If “Big Ted” can do that in the regular season, opponents’ rushing yards will surely go down and #54′s tackles will go up!
KR/WR Josh Cribbs – Catching on as a wide receiver and still returning kicks better than anyone on the team. Could be the “slash” player the Browns have been looking for to pose many problems for the opposition.
DE/LB Kamerion Wimbley – Whenever I’ve seen him on the field he’s been in the opponents backfield sacking quarterbacks, causing fumbles, dropping running backs for a loss or forcing an offensive lineman into a holding penalty. Not bad for a rookie learning a new position!
LB Willie McGinest, CB Gary Baxter and CB Daylon McCutcheon – three vets who are recovering from surgery or injury. McGinest looked decent against Buffalo and should start on Sept. 10th. Baxter said today after practice that he will start on Sept. 10th. McCutcheon, I’m hearing, probably won’t be ready for the opener on Sept. 10th.
WR Braylon Edwards – Participated in 16 plays in the win over the Bills. Caught one ball. Made a few blocks and got hit a couple of times and got up and walked off the field without a limp or getting re-injured. I think they’re rushing Edwards back and taking a big chance, but both Braylon and the team seem to be willing to roll the dice. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come up craps.
TE Kellen Winslow Jr. – Looks physically ready to play and start, but really hasn’t done much in games. In practice, from what I’ve been told, he has looked great at times, but can he take that and duplicate it on the field on Sunday afternoons?
QB Charlie Frye – With only five regular season starts under his belt and his fourth starting center, with maybe a fifth to take over soon, who knows, Frye has handled things pretty well in camp and in games in 2006. But can he continue to do that and get better when it really counts. The Browns are throwing him into the “Frye-ing Pan” and we”ll find out sooner or later if Charles is indeed in charge!
Back-up Quarterback – Derek Anderson and Ken Dorsey, that’s my order of who’s 2nd string and 3rd string. But neither excite me. In fact, both concern me. Who’s Frye going to go to with questions? What if Frye goes down? Hopefully the Browns will find a veteran QB after all the cutdowns to bring in and back up Charlie.
The Secondary – Other than Leigh Bodden, the entire defensive backfield is a major concern. McCutcheon and Baxter are coming off injuries and may or may not be ready to go by Week 1. If so, can they both stay healthy? Sean Jones and Brodney Poole have hardly any experience at the safety position and one of them will start. Brian Russell really doesn’t strike fear into the heart of the opposition. This could be the weakest part of the team.
The Offensive Line – Center LeCharles Bentley is out for the season. Left tackle Kevin Shaffer looks barely average in games and practice. Right tackle Ryan Tucker is coming off knee surgery. This could surpass the secondary as the weakest part of the team and that’s not good news for a young quarterback who’s trying to grow at the toughest position on the field.