What in the Name of Woody Hayes.... ?!?

In addition to the challenge of clutching a pen in his claws just to write, it's not easy for The Owl to conduct an interview. After all, just the sight of a talking bird is enough to send a lot of folks to their closets to dig up a firearm. Our winged friend perseveres, however, and has managed to chat with William Green and provide this look at the Browns running attack (or recent lack of same)...

Hey, the Owl knows the company line by now; it's early. Everything's going to be cool.

Maybe so, but after one scrimmage and one preseason game, The Owl has one question: What in the name of Woody Hayes is going on with the run offense?

Say all you want about the quarterbacks. Choose sides between Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb and have a mini-Civil War with family and friends; the Browns ain't going nowhere in 2003 if William Green doesn't gallop for close to 1,000 yards.

The thing is Green is ready to rock and roll. You can see it in the way he practices. Green is a changed man, and it's all for the better.

Last summer the second year running back was shy and defensive because of criticism he received for his five-day holdout at the start of training camp. He did not know whom to trust, so he trusted very few.

This training camp, Green is just one of the guys. He hangs out in the locker room more and he is more open talking about his personal life. If the schedule holds, he will become the father of his second daughter Sept. 8, one day after the Browns host the Colts in the season opener.

"Getting through my rookie year meant a lot," Green said. "I'm settled. I found a place to live (in Westlake). I got to know the playbook and the guys on the team. Once you can get that out of the way, you can focus more on your job. I definitely feel more comfortable. Hopefully it will make a big difference in the way I play this season." More to the point, Green feels at ease in the offense. He fell behind last summer because of his holdout and was injured practicing against the Bills in Rochester. The injury forced him to miss more precious time. He compounded the problem by trying to do everything on his own, figuring it worked at Boston College so it should work in the NFL. Of course, it did not.

Running backs coach Todd McNair, formerly a back with the Kansas City Chiefs, got to Green about midseason. He convinced Green the only way to really be good was to study film and digest the offense. It worked. Green rushed for 726 yards the last seven games.

And he hasn't stopped watching. The Owl likes Green still doing the Roger Ebert gig after having success last year. Most players study opponents when they watch film. Green watches as many running backs, past and present, as he can. "My coach (McNair) put together a tape of different runs by guys all over the league," Green said. "I'm included in that - watching people run hard, running people over, stiff-arm, putting moves on…Sometimes we go to the archives and watch guys like Walter Payton, who is one of my favorites, and Barry Sanders. We watch a lot of (specialty) film and game film." Green's shoulders are bigger than a year ago and he is quicker. He has been nothing short of dazzling in training camp, yet in the scrimmage against the Bills last week and against the Titans he looked like the William Green of last September and October - more dance than dash.

Coach Butch Davis said part of the problem early was not enough practice time was devoted to run offense leading up to the scrimmage. But Green would not accept that as the reason things haven't been clicking.

"Last week I blame a lot of it on me," Green said. "I wouldn't say it was anything serious. It's just a matter of getting the tempo back and getting used to doing it again.

"I'm not worried about it. I'm confident the coaches and the offensive line and myself. I think we'll be fine."

Let's hope so. The Owl is having trouble sleeping these days, worrying about the running game.


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