Berea Report: Heiden Lost Longer

It appears that the Browns may have - gasp! - underestimated an injury earlier this week when they declared TE Steve Heiden would return in 2-4 weeks. In fact, add a couple of weeks to that. Get the low-down regarding Heiden, plus the return of the good kind of Sanders (Lewis) and a little "New Orleans spice" courtesy of the Ratbird kind of Sanders (Deion).

BEREA – The Browns' injury report last Monday wasn't quite accurate in regards to tight end Steve Heiden, who suffered a knee injury in last Saturday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The report said that Heiden would miss two to four weeks. Heiden said before Wednesday's practice that he suffered a tear of the MCL in his right knee and was told he would miss four to six weeks.

The injury occurred when Heiden was pushed into the backfield by a Chiefs defender on a running play. Browns running back Lee Suggs, trying to bounce the play to the outside, inadvertently jammed his right knee into Heiden's knee.

The injury isn't serious enough to warrant surgery.

"With the MCL it's scar tissue only," Heiden said. "I was worried that it was my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). I heard it pop. To hear something pop when you're playing football is freaky. It didn't hurt that bad. It scared me."

Ironically, Heiden was injured in a game at Kansas City last year. He was eventually placed on injured-reserve with an ankle injury.

"The same thing happened to me there last year," he said. "Someone hit my leg when I was blocking somebody. That's football."

Lewis Sanders has returned for a second tour of duty with the Browns. Sanders asked for and was granted his release by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who signed him in the offseason.

Sanders, the Browns' fourth-round pick in 2000, spent four seasons with the team. He missed all of 2001 with a leg injury and was out of action seven games last season with a groin injury.

"When I first signed there they told me I would get an opportunity to come in and play on defense," Sanders said. "When things started up I didn't get an opportunity on defense, and I didn't get absolutely any opportunities on special teams. All indications were that I was going to make the team, but I wasn't happy with the reps I was getting."

Look for Sanders to be used as a "gunner" on punt coverage.

Offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez would like to play Friday against Chicago, but don't count on that happening. Gonzalez is rehabilitating from a high ankle sprain suffered against Detroit.

"It's one of those injuries where you don't want to rush it because it can turn into like an illness," Gonzalez said.

Concussion victims Chris Crocker and Eric Westmoreland have made progress, but it's doubtful either will play against Chicago. Crocker, who's playing free safety, was hurt against Detroit. Westmoreland was injured when hit late by Chiefs lineman Casey Wiegmann.

"Chris wants to play," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "Today (Wednesday) is the first day that he said he felt really good. He ran and didn't have any headaches."

PRIME TIME BUZZ: Several of the Browns feel Deion Sanders will be successful in his comeback bid. Sanders signed a one-year contract Tuesday with the Baltimore Ravens, who open against the Browns Sept. 12.

Asked about having more spice added to a hot rivalry, free safety Earl Little said, "That's New Orleans type of spice to bring in a guy like that to play in the first game of the season. They already have a great defense. With the addition of him, that makes it even better."

Defensive end Kenard Lang played with Sanders in Washington. Lang doesn't think the three-year layoff by Sanders will hurt him too much.

"(Michael) Jordan missed some years," Lang said. "They (football and basketball) are different sports, but it's still basically one-on-one. You got that one guy in front of you."

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