Steve King, who contributes to Bernie's Insiders Magazine as well as the papers mentioned above, broke a troubling story this morning.
According to the report, published online via the Chronicle-Telegram, newly acquired fullback Terrelle Smith has incurred damage to his back during the off-season. At this time, there is very little detail available regarding the injury, which is believed to have occurred during off-season workouts. Via sources within the Browns organization, King has heard that surgery will be required the repair the damage.
The Browns themselves are not discussing off-season surgeries officially, preferring to wait until Butch Davis returns in July to discuss Sean Jones surgery and to offer details, if any, on Smith. Calls this morning to Smith's agent, Bruce Tollner, have not been immediately returned. King's information, however, comes from a highly reliable source within the team.
If the story proves correct, the damage to the Browns new offensive philosophy will be palpable. New offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie is looking to place a great deal of emphasis on the fullback position in the team's 2004 attack. The Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuck reported yesterday that Robiskie spoke glowingly of Smith's potential contribution in following a golf event in Canton.
The Browns commitment to the fullback position is further indicated by the presence of four players on the roster who can play the position. In addition to Smith, the team is looking at newly-available Ben Miller, now freed up from his military commitment, converted tight end Terrell Browden and recent acquisition Corey McIntyre.
McIntyre, acquired along with WR Latarence Dunbar late last week, played previously in NFL Europe. While the timing of his acquisition might suggest that the Browns were aware of a potential loss at fullback, Robiskie's comments earlier this week seem to indicate that the team was looking to rely heavily on Smith as recently as last weekend.
With all stories of this type, we remind Browns fans to hold on for further information. The extent of the injury has not been revealed, and the team has provided no official confirmation. As additional details become available, either on elsewhere or directly through Bernie's Insiders, we will make them available as quickly as they are proved legitimate.