Berea Report: Little Fires Back

Browns free safety Earl Little, shown here during better times, is not a happy camper. Mike McLain reports from Berea where Little has roared back in defense of himself following his demotion to a backup role. Plus, a couple players come off the PUP list, Z keeps his head down, and some wide receivers are still wobbling...

BEREA – Earl Little didn't hold any punches Monday when the Browns returned to practice after the bye week.

Little voiced displeasure at being demoted as the starting free safety in favor of Chris Crocker. The move was made early last week.

Using the grading papers of secondary coach Chuck Pagano to bolster his defense, Little contends that he's having a good season.

"This is Earl Little's grade sheet against Baltimore. This is Earl Little's grade sheet against the Philadelphia Eagles. Not one mental error on there," Little said. "Out of those 35 mentals, I wasn't one. If I don't stand up for myself, it wouldn't be fair. The evidence is here. I know I've been playing some pretty good football.

"I'm seeing stuff that was said (after the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles). We had 35 mentals as a defense, and a lot of it was in the secondary, and I'm the one that's getting benched. The average reader reading that will think that I'm screwing up."

Also upsetting to Little was a story in which Crocker was quoted as saying he's more athletic than Little. Crocker said he didn't mean to insinuate that Little isn't a good athlete.

"Even if he (Crocker) felt that way that he's more athletic than me, c'mon, he's not even close," Little said. "I don't want to make this a beef between he and I, but I can't keep taking all these jabs because I know what I can do."

Coach Butch Davis said the decision was based on Crocker's improving play.

"This is not an Earl Little issue," Davis said. "Earl is a competitor. He's scrappy and a fighter. He's going to continue to play. This is more about an opportunity that Chris Crocker has earned."

Crocker believes his time has arrived.

"Taking nothing away from Earl, I think I've played very well," Crocker said. "I think I deserve a chance to go out there and see what I can do with the starters."

Guard Paul Zukauskas admits he wasn't pleased when hearing that he had been benched a few weeks ago.

"I was mad, frustrated, absolutely," Zukauskas said. "You get frustrated coming out of the lineup. As negative as it is for you, you have to stay positive and not get too down on yourself and not lose sight of what's important for your career and football."

Enoch DeMar is expected to continue to start at left guard. He got the call against Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

WIDES WOES: Receiver Andre Davis participated in the early stages of Monday's practice but didn't finish the session. Davis missed the Eagles' game with a toe injury. Receiver Andre King sat out Monday's practice with a sprained ankle.

FRESH OFF THE PUP: Tight end Keith Heinrich and running back Adimchinobe Echemandu returned to practice. Both players opened the season on the physically unable to perform list.

This is the first week that PUP players can begin practicing. Teams have a three-week window with PUP players before making a decision to activate them or place them on injured reserve.

The OBR Top Stories