BEREA – Fans might believe that the Browns have backtracked this season, but coach Butch Davis firmly believes that the train is still on the tracks.
"I don't think that at all," Davis said when asked if his plan has gone awry in year three. "We have a plan, and we're going to succeed and we're going to be good. There are some tough times right now. We've had to struggle to get a win. We've been out of sync. We've certainly had more changes through the first nine games than anybody because of injuries.
"It's tough to develop any consistency and continuity. The quarterback position has changed three or four times. It's tough to get into a rhythm until you all stay and play together. Looking back to 2001 and where we are today, I like where we're at. I don't like the record at all, and I don't like some of the things that have happened, but I think we're moving in the right direction."
Davis continues to use offensive injuries as a reason for what's happened to date. Two of the wounded – center Jeff Faine and guard Shaun O'Hara – returned last Sunday. Davis is hopeful that left tackle Barry Stokes, who missed the last two-and-a-half games, will be back this week from an ankle injury.
As the team gets healthier, Davis believes that better times are ahead. His confidence has been boosted because of what he believes is a never-quit attitude among the players.
"Guys came in here this (Monday) morning and lifted before meetings," Davis said. "This is a young team that wants to win and wants to get better. It's not a mystery that we're going through some tough times. The only way you get out of those is you dig your way out.
"We're not going to change the expected standards. Regardless of the outcome of the game, we're not cutting anybody any slack. We expect everybody to perform and prepare like a professional, and I think they will."
Davis expects to have running back William Green back after he served a one-game team suspension after he was arrested for DUI and possession of marijuana. Davis also hopes that quarterback Kelly Holcomb's injured right leg improves to the point that his lack of mobility isn't a factor.
Most importantly, Davis wants to see the offense improve on its third-down conversion rate.
"Of the third-down plays we had (last Sunday), probably 80 percent of them were third down and 5 or less," Davis said. "Those are the ones that you have to convert. The two most critical factors that cost us the game (against Kansas City) were our defense's inability on third downs and our inability to convert third-down situations."
INJURY UPDATE: Fullback R.J. Bowers and tight end Steve Heiden are nursing ankle injuries, and cornerback Daylon McCutcheon has a hyperextended knee. None of the injuries is considered serious, but it's not known if they'll be available Sunday.