NOTES: Stokes Answers the Call

Mike McLain brings us notes from Pittsburgh, which include Barry Stokes and William Green playing through pain and tight ends on the move...

PITTSBURGH - Barry Stokes answered the call at offensive left tackle, despite missing most of the practice time last week.

Stokes has been nursing a high ankle sprain since he suffered the injury in a week two game against Baltimore. He's played each week since then, but he hasn't spent much time practicing.

Stokes wasn't listed on the injury report throughout the course of the week. Coach Butch Davis said it would be a game-time decision as to whether Stokes would get the start.

Davis has had to do make several changes on the line, starting with a bicep injury that ended tackle Ross Verba's season in the final preseason game. Stokes, who had been ticketed to start at left guard, was moved to tackle, and second-year veteran Melvin Fowler started in place of Stokes.

Fowler has since played his way out of the lineup because of ineffectiveness. Shaun O'Hara was moved from right guard to left guard, and Paul Zukauskas started at right guard the last two weeks.

If Stokes hadn't been able to answer the call, second-year veteran Joaquin Gonzalez would have been given the start. It would have been Gonzalez's first career start.

SANDERS STARTS: With Aaron Shea out with a torn bicep, Darnell Sanders got a start at H-back for the Browns. Shea injured the bicep last week and was listed as questionable on the injury report. Coach Butch Davis ruled him out after practice last Thursday.

Tight end Steve Heiden lined up as a fullback on the opening play of the game. Since the release of Kevin McLeod a few weeks ago, the Browns have no true fullback on their roster.

KJ'S NUMBERS MOUNT: With a touchdown reception in the first quarter, receiver Kevin Johnson extended his streak of catches in consecutive games since he began his career in 1999 to 69, seventh best in NFL history.

Johnson needs a reception in each of the next five games to surpass Kellen Winslow, who stands at 73. St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk leads with an active streak of 138.

SACKING THE STEELERS: Courtney Brown had a big first quarter. He stripped the ball from Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox and fell on the fumble. Brown sacked Maddox later in the quarter.

Brown had his best day as a pro in his rookie season against the Steelers when he had 3.5 sacks in a game at home. Eight of Brown's 15 career sacks have been against the Steelers.

NO RIVALRY?: Some of the Steelers talked last week about how their rivalry with the Browns isn't the team's top rivalry. Because of games that had playoff implications in recent seasons with Baltimore, the Ravens are widely hated by the Steelers.

"It's not to a hatred point to where we're disgusted by them," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said of the Browns. "That's a more Baltimore-Pittsburgh thing now than Pittsburgh-Cleveland."

GREEN GUTS IT OUT: William Green played on a sore ankle much of the game, but he still managed to rush for 115 yards. Green said there was no way he was coming out.

"I wasn't coming out unless they came out there and got me," Green said.

ROSTER NOTES: Inactives for the Browns were receiver C.J. Jones; defensive backs Roosevelt Williams and Michael Lehan; offensive lineman Enoch DeMar; defensive linemen Tyrone Rogers and Antonio Garay; Shea and quarterback Kelly Holcomb.


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