BEREA – Offensive tackle Ross Verba was back in the Browns' locker room Monday, 10 days after having surgery to repair a torn right bicep tendon.
Once the swelling goes down and Verba is able to get some range of motion, he'll begin the long rehabilitation process. It's not something he's looking forward to doing.
"I came back from a back injury, but as weird as this sounds, it sounds like this is going to be harder to come back from, mentally" Verba said. "I'll definitely do it. They say there are seven stages an athlete goes through when he gets injured. I'm still in that shock-denial stage. I'm sure once I start rehab that I'll be ready to get back out there."
Verba will be in the final year of a four-year, $16 million contract when he returns in 2004. With a base salary of $4.6 million next year, he realizes that his future might not be with the Browns.
"That's the way it is, and I understand that," Verba said. "If I'm here or somewhere else next year, that's fine."
Not being able to play this season after putting in a lot of work during the offseason is difficult to take.
"It wasn't like someone landed on me," Verba said. "I just kind of got my arm out there. I'm sure that's happened before. There's a reason for everything. I'll just accept it and come back. Hopefully, I can be here for the fellas and encourage them to do their jobs."
LOOKING AT THE BRIGHT SIDE: Coach Butch Davis was as upbeat as a coach can be the day after a loss. He was pleased with the play of the defense.
"At this time a year ago I was scared to death," Davis said. "We had just given up 40 points to the Kansas City Chiefs. This year we virtually pitched a shutout against Indianapolis to some extent.
"A year ago I left the stadium realizing we had just given up 40 points and had blown a big lead and feeling like we had some issues. On the end of some things that happened in the 2001 season, I thought that maybe we didn't have the fire put out. Hence some of those things manifested themselves during the season."
Davis wasn't as pleased about the offense's inability to score a touchdown on two short-yardage situations. He admittedly thought about making a different play call on second down.
"If you had known it was six inches, eight inches, 10 inches away instead of the 1, maybe you would have called a quarterback sneak," Davis said. "But you assume they're going to sell out if we call a quarterback sneak."
CROCKER IN THE NICKEL: Rookie Chris Crocker will continue as the starting nickel defensive back. Lewis Sanders was the starter when camp opened, but Crocker moved to the top of the depth chart in the third preseason game.
QUIET STORM WATCH: Defensive end Courtney Brown appeared on 37 of the Browns' 59 defensive plays. He had two tackles, including a sack for minus 7 yards.
"I watched the change of direction and the ability to plant off both knees," Davis said. "Because of the limited amount of playing and preparation for playing, he got a little tired and had to come out of the games a couple of times."
TWO NEW FATHERS: Middle linebacker Andra Davis's wife Monique age birth Monday to daughter Amber, who weighed six pounds 15 ounces. The couple has a three-year-old daughter Alisha.
Just hours after Monique gave birth, William Green's girl friend Asia delivered a girl. The couple has two daughters.
THE STAT SHEET: There were changes made to the tackle chart after the coaches' film review. Andra Davis, who was initially credited with eight tackles, was awarded 13. Ben Taylor, who had 11 on the original list, was credited with 12.