Early Look at the Competition

The Bears could gain ground in the NFC North during their bye week, but they will face an improved Cleveland squad on the road Oct. 9. Like Chicago, the Browns will have two weeks to prepare for the game and are venting coming off a loss.

Cleveland was an angry team following its 13-6 loss to Indianapolis. While some fans were thrilled that the Browns played close, the Browns were mad that mistakes blew opportunities to score a huge upset.

A penalty wiped out a punt return for a touchdown. Two taunting penalties after completions stopped early momentum. And most painful of all, Antonio Bryant could not hold on to a touchdown pass in the end zone.

Bryant was especially hard on himself, saying his drop cost his team a chance to win.

"I have to hold on to the ball," he said.

The Browns have shown growth under Romeo Crennel. They have won a game in Green Bay that few gave them a chance to win, and they came close to winning a game in Indianapolis that fewer gave them a chance to win.

The next step for the team will be to get past coming close and actually win the games. To do that, the Browns will have to avoid the types of mistakes made by receivers Braylon Edwards and Antonio Bryant, who both had 15-yard taunting penalties.

"It irritates me," Crennel said Monday. "Anytime you have a team that you put on the field, it's a reflection of yourself. I would like to think that I'm more disciplined and the team is more disciplined. When we make those mistakes, particularly when they cost us wins, it hurts."

Crennel said he's not leaving it to the veterans to provide the message to the youngster.

"I'm going to put the onus on the team," he said. "I'm going to talk to the team about it because they're all on the team."

NEWS & NOTES

  • Reuben Droughns won the respect of his teammates with his play against the Colts. He had 76 hard-earned yards, and some came after he was nearly knocked out with a hit by Mike Doss.

    Droughns never saw Doss coming and got blindsided with a shot to the temple. He went to the ground dazed, but was angry when team trainers told him to lay down. He wanted to get up, and he came back in the game shortly after.

    A few plays later, he was given the ball on a fourth-and-1, and broke a tackle in the backfield, spun and picked up the first down.

    Teammates said in the locker room that he had garnered a large measure of respect with his efforts.

    Droughns is one of the few running backs that had success against the Bears in the preseason. He carried the ball 9 times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the Sept. 1st game at Soldier Field.

  • QB Trent Dilfer had a very accurate day against the Colts, at one point completing 13-of-14 throws. He finished 22-of-29, but said he would think long and hard about an incompletion on third down on the Browns' last possession.

    Dilfer threw as he was rolling to his right on the play, but he never got his feet set. As a result, his errant throw to Frisman Jackson fell incomplete. He pounded the ground in frustration after the play, and it was evident why when the Colts ran out the last 7:40 of the game.

    "I'm going to think about that one for a long time," Dilfer said.

  • WR Braylon Edwards continues to grow in the team's offense. The Browns used Edwards a lot in Indianapolis, including as the only receiver in two tight-end sets. After the bye week, expect Edwards to play just about every down and be an integral part of the offense.

  • TE Steve Heiden saw his catches drop to two for 12 yards, but he wasn't complaining. Heiden was largely used to help block Dwight Freeney as the coaching staff tried to slow down the Colts' pass rush. Heiden said he agreed with the thinking and was happy to help.

  • LT L.J. Shelton felt he held his own against Freeney -- which is unusual since Freeney had three sacks. One of the sacks came when Freeney raced way up field and came back to get Trent Dilfer, but on the other two, Freeney cleanly beat Shelton. The common denominator on those two sacks? The Browns left Shelton alone to block Freeney, and he was too quick for the Browns tackle.

  • CB Daylon McCutcheon had his second interception in two games. McCutcheon is benefiting from the defensive style the Browns play. He's not a pure cover corner with blazing speed, but he is a smart player who will always be in the right position. That's how he got his pick against the Colts.

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