Sunday Mystery Men

David Carducci reports from Berea today that Lee Suggs and William Green are both in the dark about which will start on Sunday. There's some murmering in the locker room this week...

BEREA - Interested in knowing who will start at running back for the Cleveland Browns Sunday in Pittsburgh?

Lee Suggs and William Green would love to know, too.

"I hope I know before the game," said Suggs.

Both backs are still listed as co-No. 1's on the Browns current depth chart. But considering his 22 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown in the Browns 17-13 win over the Washington Redskins, Suggs is the likely favorite to make the first start of his pro career Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Suggs admits he would like the chance to start, but who trots ono the field for the game's opening drive and who comes off the bench doesn't seem to be important to Browns coach Butch Davis.

"It's going to be running back by committee," said Davis. "I am so, so unconcerned about who the starter is. The first play of the game doesn't make any difference."

Davis has no intention of defining the roles of Suggs and Garcia, as the Steelers have done in making Duce Staley the feature back and Jerome Bettis the bunker buster at the goal line.

For now, he intends on playing with whichever running back "gets hot" in a particular game.

He did that Sunday in Suggs first game back from a stinger injury. While Green started for the fourth straight week, he found himself on the sideline for the entire second half, watching Suggs handle all of the running duties.

Green was visibly upset. If Davis intended to go with whichever back was hot, Green was never given a chance to get his game rolling.

In the first half, Green carried just four times for 17 yards, including an encouraging 7-yard burst. Suggs, meanwhile, broke off a 25-yard carry on his first run from scrimmage. He followed by carrying five straight times for no gain.

So does Green have reason to be upset?

"It goes without saying," said Suggs.

While Suggs and Green are competing for work on the field, they choose not to carry that competition into the locker room..

"We don't talk about who is going to start," said Suggs. "Or playing time. It doesn't even come up."

According to Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia, the fact that Green and Suggs get along off the field may keep the Browns running back question from becoming a major problem.

When Garcia was in San Francisco, the 49ers attempt to platoon Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow at running back did become a problem.

"The problem in San Francisco was that there wasn't a real solid relationship among the players who were playing the position," said Garcia. "It became difficult because they were platooning so much, they were really sharing the load, that neither one could really find a rhythm in the game. I think that's what you have to research and try to understand. How can we get each guy opportunities on the field without taking away from the positive things one guy can do over the other."

Garcia believes one running back needs carry the bulk of the load, whether that means 60-to-70-percent of the carries, or more.

"You have to go with the guy you believe is going to be most productive for the team," said Garcia. "Whoever that guy is, that has to be the guy who gets the majority of the load because he has to find a rhythm. He needs to feel comfortable with what he is doing on the field."

But for now, Davis intends to go choose who plays based on feel during the game.

"Guys go in and get a feel for the game, they play well and they are hot," said Davis. "And they can both be hot. We had games in the preseason, Kansas City is the most noticeable one, where both were running extremely well. It's just a matter of keeping them fresh and going into the game."

The OBR Top Stories