KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 43rd meeting. The Browns lead the all-time series 32-9-1. The last contest took place in 1991, a 42-17 Redskins victory as Washington surged toward Joe Gibbs' third Super Bowl title. The clubs split the other two meetings during Gibbs' tenure.
*2004 RANKINGS: Redskins: offense 15th (10th rush, 16th pass); defense 3rd (1st rush, 14th pass). Browns: offense 28th (13th rush, 30th pass); defense 25th (18th rush, 25th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns, who have yet to score in the first quarter this season, can't afford to stumble out of the gate again. The offense has gone three-and-out on its first possession of each game and produced a total of four first-quarter first downs. QB Jeff Garcia has appeared tentative in the pocket and the Browns are hoping RBs William Green and perhaps Lee Suggs can ease the pressure and prevent constant third-and-longs. Redskins QB Mark Brunell has struggled with his consistency, so the Browns will focus on containing RB Clinton Portis and try to make Brunell force the ball downfield. Brunell's protection has been shaky so his time to find open receivers likely will be limited.
FAST FACTS: Redskins: WR Rod Gardner has seven receptions on third down this season. ... Portis has 19 100-yard rushing games in 32 career games. Browns: Offense has converted just nine of 37 (24.3 percent) of third-down situations. ... Lead the series 32-9-1, but the teams have not met since 1991.
PREDICTION: Redskins 20-10
- KR Chad Morton (knee) didn't practice Thursday and looks like he might miss the Browns game. Although he was moving better, he didn't appear to be in football shape.
- S Andre Lott (hamstring) didn't practice Thursday and remained questionable. However, he believes he is going to play at Cleveland.
- LB Mike Barrow (knee) didn't practice Thursday and remained questionable. Barrow's return from a torn tendon is pretty much a week-to-week crapshoot. He has yet to play in a game for the Redskins.
- S Matt Bowen (groin) didn't practice Thursday but healed enough to be upgraded to probable.
- WR Laveranues Coles (finger) practiced again Thursday and shouldn't have any problem playing at Cleveland.
- LB Antonio Pierce (foot) returned to practice Thursday and was taken off the injury list.
- TE Kellen Winslow Jr. was placed on injured reserve Thursday. His right leg was broken Sept. 19 in Dallas. Coach Butch Davis was hopeful Winslow might play again in 2004 until doctors discovered ligament damage in a post-operative exam. A second operation was performed Wednesday. Winslow's rehab will last five months.
- OL Bo Lacy was signed from the Steelers practice squad Thursday to fill the roster spot opened when Winslow was placed on I.R. Lacy, a sixth-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2004, had been on Pittsburgh's practice squad. The Browns play the Steelers Oct. 10.
- Whether RB Lee Suggs plays against the Redskins Sunday will be another game-time decision. He has been inactive each of the first three weeks because of a neck injury. Coach Davis said Suggs has done no more in practice this week than either of the last two weeks.
- LG Paul Zukauskas played last week with a sprained MCL of his left knee. He was listed as questionable Wednesday and upgraded to probable Thursday.
- LB Chaun Thompson will be making his first career start in the Browns' traditional 4-3 defense. He did start against the Ravens in the opener, but the Browns were in a 4-4-3 defense to stop Jamal Lewis. Thompson is starting because Ben Taylor is out for the season following surgery to reattach his torn pectoral tendon.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
The Hall of Fame credentials of Redskins coach Joe Gibbs bought him just a two-week grace period. Following Monday's loss to the Cowboys, Gibbs' game-management skills became a hot topic of debate around Washington.
At the center of griping was the fact that Washington had no timeouts left in the game's final minutes. Wide receiver Rod Gardner caught a pass in range for a potential tying field goal but time expired when he couldn't get out of bounds.
The first two timeouts were burned midway through the second half when the Redskins had trouble getting a play off. Gibbs shouldered the blame for both timeouts, saying he would trim back the pre-snap motion and complexity of the offense.
"Basically, I've got to simplify some things we're doing package-wise," Gibbs said. "We're trying to do too much. We shouldn't get caught in those situations."
The final timeout vanished in the fourth quarter on a failed challenge. Terry Glenn had just scored to put Dallas up by 11. In the booth, the Redskins couldn't get a good angle to determine whether Glenn was in or out of bounds. Gibbs decided to take a risk and challenge the play.
"Here was the problem on that: that was a huge play," Gibbs said. "It put them up by a ton. And so if it was close, I at least wanted to take our shot. I sure didn't want to be sitting here (this week), saying, 'The thing was out of bounds.'
"As happens many times out there, (the guys in the booth will) tell you, 'Yes, it's reviewable, but we can't get the replay.' ... I felt like where the game was there, I needed to do it. That one goes with me. That's my mistake."
And that wasn't the last game-management error that Gibbs admitted. He also took blame for running the ball on second down from the Cowboys' 1 at the end of the first half. By running and failing to score, the Redskins had to burn their final timeout. That meant they had to pass on third down.
If Gibbs had passed and thrown incomplete, the clock would have stopped and he could have had run or passed on third down.
"I probably hurt us with what I decided to go with there," Gibbs said. "I was kind of stubborn with what I thought would work."
McCutcheon did not play against the Giants because of a broken middle finger on his left hand and Henry was deactivated because of a lingering bout of vertigo. Giants quarterback Kurt Warner picked on their replacements, Michael Lehan and Leigh Bodden. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 286 yards.
"The starters give you a better chance to win," McCutcheon said. "I want to be out there. I don't think just because I'm out there we win, but you want your starters out there. It gives you a chance to play better defense. If we get them down we want to keep them down."
McCutcheon's finger was broken in the first quarter against Dallas Sept. 19 when it was mashed between two helmets. Doctors operated and used three pins to put the finger back together.
McCutcheon did not practice once last week. He practiced Wednesday and Thursday this week while wearing a bulky cast that immobilizes the middle and ring finger on his left hand. He said the trainers have made three different casts for him to choose from. McCutcheon said he wanted to play last week, but the pain was to great.
Henry's problem started when he tackled Cowboys running back Eddie George on first-and-goal from the 6 with 4:06 left in the third quarter. It was a solid hit that stopped George cold. Henry said he felt a little dizzy in the moments afterward, but he said that sensation is not uncommon. He felt fine on the plane ride home. But that night, when he lay down to sleep, he started feeling dizzy.
"The whole room was spinning," he said. "Whenever I tilted or moved quickly in one direction I felt it."
Treatment included neck exercises and sleeping sitting up in a chair five nights straight. He said he has had no dizziness since Tuesday.