Verba Remaining Quiet

Ross Verba has stopped talking to the media because of criticism of the line.

If you've wondered why offensive guard Ross Verba hasn't been quoted in stories lately, it's because he has decided to boycott the media.

Verba wasn't pleased when the offensive line came under criticism for its poor play. When he was talking, Verba usually defended his play. His comments seemed to be pointing blame elsewhere, which wasn't appreciated by one of his teammates (not an offensive lineman).

Verba began his boycott after the Browns' win in Baltimore. Asked why he isn't talking to all reporters, he said that if the media is going to lump all the linemen together in its criticism, he's going to lump all the reporters together.

It's believed that Verba, who signed a four-year contract last March, is the safest offensive lineman in terms of what might happen in the offseason. His standard line when asked about his performance when he was talking was, "no sacks, no pressures."

GETTING PERSONAL: Tim Couch continued his mini boycott of the media on Thursday. Couch wasn't happy about a recent column in an area newspaper. The columnist suggested that Couch should sit down with a Mountain Dew and be asked if he thinks there are enough trash talkers on the team.

Couch didn't talk to reporters on Wednesday, which usually his his day to meet with the media. When he begged off reporters' requests for an interview on Thursday, he said that he'll have something to say on Friday.

Butch Davis came to Couch's defense when asked about how well Couch has played this season.

We are fortunate to have Tim Couch," Davis said. "Tim is the kind of quarterback who can take a team to the Super Bowl."

GRADING TIME: Receiver Quincy Morgan gives himself a C-minus for his play this season. He has 25 receptions for 338 yards and two touchdowns.

Morgan doesn't necessarily agree with Davis' contention that it was important to reduce what was expected of Morgan midway through the season.

"If the coach says that, then I guess he's right," Morgan said.

SECOND OPINION: Tight end Mark Campbell was headed to New York on Thursday to have a second opinion on his injured right knee. The examination was to be done by a New York Jets physician.

Campbell injured the knee during an intrasquad scrimmage on the second day of training camp for veterans and was put on the reserve-injured list. He thinks he might need arthroscopic surgery.

LOOKING AHEAD: Defensive lineman Mark Smith might be playing his way into another contract. Smith, who signed a one-year deal last spring, has impressed Davis from day one of training camp. When Smith stepped in admirably after Courtney Brown sprained an ankle last Sunday, his stock may have increased in value.

Speaking of new contracts, defensive end Keith McKenzie would like to return to the Browns next season. McKenzie is out for the season with a broken ankle. It was a severe injury that will keep him from doing serious rehab until next March, at the earliest.

McKenzie signed a two-year contract in March of 2000. His absence has had a negative effect on pressure the defense has mounted against quarterbacks.

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