KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAME DATE: 10/12/03
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross
Oakland Raiders (2-3) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
SERIES: The Raiders count games played against teams that wore the
Browns' logo and claim a 9-4 series lead.
However, they are 0-2 against the
Baltimore Ravens and have only played the expansion Browns once-a 36-10 romp in
2000. So, technically they are 8-6 against the historical/Art Modell Browns and
1-0 against the Carmen Policy version. Of course, the most famous game the teams
played came in the playoffs at Cleveland on Jan. 4, 1981, when the teams ice
skated their way through 60 bitter minutes with Oakland winning, 14-12 on Mike Davis' end zone interception of Brian Sipe's pass. The Raiders went on to win
Super Bowl XV over Dick Vermeil's Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10.
2003 RANKINGS: Raiders: offense 24th (22nd rush, 20th pass); defense 31st
(30th rush, 19th pass). Browns: offense 31st (27th rush, 25th pass); defense 6th
(26th rush, 2nd pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Raiders RB Charlie Garner has only 16 catches and needs
to be a bigger part of the passing game as he had 25 receptions for 297 yards by
this time last season. Oakland would get a big boost if WR Jerry Porter (sports
hernia) can return to help stretch the league's second-best pass defense.
Without Porter, WRs Tim Brown have trouble finding space
underneath. The Browns haven't played well at home and need a strong start to
avoid more backlashes from the fans. The Raiders have been hit hard by strong
running game, so Cleveland needs to stay close and keep RB William Green in the
FAST FACTS: Raiders: They have not won the time of possession in any game
this season. The team was 4-6 when it lost time of possession last season, 9-0
when it won. ... RB Charlie Garner has not fumbled in his past 410 touches, the
second-longest active streak in the league. Browns: They are 5-0 when RB William
Green has at least 25 carries and 4-0 when he rushes for at least 100 yards.
* DT Dana Stubblefield (ankle) expects to play against Cleveland and is not
practicing to let his ankle heal as much as possible for the game. He said there
is no chance of things getting better until at least after the bye, which falls
in Week 8 for Oakland.
* DT John Parrella (groin) did not practice again and the team is making
contingency plans at tackle in case he and Stubblefield can't play.
* DE Chris Cooper is being used more at tackle in case Parrella and/or
Stubblefield cannot play.
* Rookie DE Akbar Gbaja-Biamila is being used inside at tackle as well as Chris
Cooper in the event Parrella and/or Stubblefield cannot play.
* WR Jerry Porter (hernia) practiced but remained doubtful for the game
according to coach Bill Callahan.
* RT Lincoln Kennedy (calf) was able to practice again Thursday, the day after
he returned to practice for the first time since tearing the muscle. It was a
good sign that Kennedy may be able to face the Browns and DE Courtney Brown.
* SS Derrick Gibson (shoulder) was added to the long injury list but practiced
Thursday and should be available.
* DE Sam Williams (knee) did not practice again, adding to his season-long
miseries trying to come back from arthroscopic surgery.
* OL Matt Stinchcomb (shoulder) practiced Thursday after being held out
Wednesday. His shoulder injury is the same he has had surgically repaired twice.
* RB Tyrone Wheatley (back) practiced and should be available.
* RG Mo Collins (knee) was held out of practice for a second straight day
Thursday, leading to speculation that the nagging injury might finally cost him
some playing time. Collins has been on the injury report for weeks but has
almost always practiced during the week. One of the contingency plans is for LG
Frank Middleton to move to RG and Matt Stinchcomb to take Middle's LG spot. The
team also is considering Brad Badger as a replacement.
* TE O.J. Santiago (hamstring) went through a normal practice one day after
being limited to individual drills.
* LB Bill Romanowski (concussion) still has not practiced since Week 3 and
though listed as doubtful, is almost certainly out.
* LT Barry Stokes remains questionable with a sprained right ankle. He is
limited in practice.
* QB Kelly Holcomb is questionable with a fractured right fibula. He is
practicing by running the scout team. He has been sidelined since being injured
* DB Michael Lehan is questionable with a pulled hamstring. He has played only
* TE Zeron Flemister, acquired Wednesday on waivers from the Redskins, is
getting a crash course in the Browns' special teams philosophy. Flemister is
replacing TE Aaron Shea, who was played on IR Wednesday with a torn biceps.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The Raiders have a problem with their rushing defense and it's not a new one.
It was two years ago that the Raiders were free-lancing too much and found
themselves looking up at the spikes of Seattle running back Shaun Alexander. On
one evening in Seattle, he threatened the league record for rushing yardage.
The problem was ascribed to players trying to do too much-leaving their gaps and
covering another. It happened again last year during the team's four-game slide
when the Raiders gave up 615 yards. Now it's happening again. The Raiders have
allowed 612 yards in their last three games.
"It's a guy wanting to make every play he can and in doing that, he is not
staying true to what his responsibility is in the defense," safety Anthony Dorsett said.
"It may look like he can make the play and he may peek somewhere he's not
supposed to peek-sticking his head where his head is not supposed to be-and not
making the play. We're hurting ourselves." "It leaves a void,"
cornerback Charles Woodson said. "More than anything, the problem is
mental. It's a matter of going out and under-standing there is an assignment you
have to do and you need to be there-even if you think something else is going to
happen." Woodson remembers well the Alexander experience and how the team
rallied from it.
"I think cats were embarrassed by that," he said. "You let a guy
damn near run for 300 yards it doesn't take a coach to come in and say anything
to you. You were out there on the field. You went through it. "Guys just
looked at themselves and saw what was going on and it was like 'We can't allow
this week in and week out ... guys breaking records rushing the ball."
The Raiders know until they stop it, they are going to be tested- even by
William Green, Cleveland's running back with the 3.4-yard average. "You see
a team block a field goal you know that next team is going to come in that same
gap," said defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield. "Until you stop it, you
are going to see it. There is no doubt about that."
Kelly Holcomb could be the No. 2 quarterback as early as Sunday when the Browns
play host to the Oakland Raiders in Cleveland Browns Stadium. He has been No. 3
behind Nate Hybl the past two weeks after fracturing his right
fibula Sept. 21 in San Francisco.
For the first time since being injured, Holcomb said doctors told him he would
need four to six weeks to heal completely, but that does not necessarily mean he
would have to be 100 percent to play; he played more than three quarters in San
Francisco with the broken bone. Coach Butch Davis said on Monday Holcomb would
have to be 100 percent to compete with Couch for the starting job, but Holcomb
could play sooner if Couch is knocked out of a game. "To where there's no
evidence of a shadow or crack (on X-rays), I'm sure that's what the doctors are
saying," Davis said. "I don't know that would be in line for
expectations for playing. The question you have to ask about every guy on your
team is 'are they healthy enough and near physically capable to do the job well
enough to protect themselves and play well and perform?'
"Until they are, you either go with somebody that's under 100 percent
because there is no alternative, or you live with somebody as we've lived with
Barry Stokes (ankle injury). Barry is clearly not 100 percent, but every Sunday
he gets to the mid to low 90s (percent)." Holcomb was the starter until he
was injured. Since then and until Wednesday, he was able to little more than
stand on the sideline and play catch and throw in individual drills. But
starting with the Wednesday practice, Holcomb started running the scout team and
taking some snaps with the first-team offense.
Browns - Raiders Game Snapshot
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