Browns-Bills: Strategy and Personnel

Tracking the how injuries change Sunday's match-ups

The Browns are likely to face resurgent Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe without half of their starting secondary.

Free safety Chris Crocker won't play Sunday because of a severe bruise of his left biceps. Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon didn't practice yesterday because of a separated left shoulder sustained against Cincinnati two weeks ago. He is listed as questionable, but that's probably wishful thinking.

"I want to go out there and play," McCutcheon said. "I want to compete, but you don't want to rush it.

"You don't want it to be something that's recurring."

McCutcheon didn't play last week against New England.

Crocker was injured when he tried to tackle Kevin Faulk on a touchdown run.

The team's initial diagnosis was a torn biceps, but a magnetic imaging test showed that it wasn't. Crocker wears a sling most of the time and has trouble moving his arm.

"I do feel good I'm not going to have to have surgery, but I am going to miss games," Crocker said.

  • WR Antonio Bryant is rapidly becoming a go-to receiver for the Browns since he was acquired in a trade for underachieving Quincy Morgan Oct. 19. Bryant caught seven passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns against New England. That came after he caught eight passes for 131 yards against Cincinnati. A Browns receiver had not had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Webster Slaughter did it in 1989.
  • Running back William Green was benched after losing a fumble returned for a New England touchdown early in the third quarter. Rookie seventh-round pick Adimchinobe Echemandu replaced him and carried three times. With Lee Suggs still battling a turf toe, coach Terry Robiskie said Echemandu is likely to get more time this week.
  • The Browns have used five different offensive-line combinations. A year ago, injuries forced Cleveland to use eight different combinations. Since returning to the league in 1999, the Browns have used 31 line combinations.


Injuries to the secondary forced a change in the gunners on punt coverage. Dyshod Carter and Frisman Jackson took over that role for Lewis Sanders (starting at cornerback) and Michael Lehan (hurt).

  • CB Daylon McCutcheon is unlikely to play because of separated left shoulder. He did not practice.
  • S Chris Crocker will not play because of a bruised biceps. The injury was originally believed to be a torn biceps but an MRI revealed otherwise.
  • QB Jeff Garcia is listed as probable with a strained shoulder, but he will not start against the Bills.
  • QB Kelly Holcomb is listed as questionable with cracked ribs, but coach Terry Robiskie indicated he probably wouldn't be ready until next week.
  • RB Lee Suggs continues to struggle with a turf toe on his right foot. He is listed as questionable.
  • C Jeff Faine has a sore shin after being kicked in the Patriots game. He did not practice Wednesday but said he will play against the Bills.
  • LB Barry Gardner practiced Wednesday despite a neck stinger and is expected to play.

GAME PLAN: Relying on a rookie quarterback starting his second NFL game is not ideal, but that's the situation the Browns face this week against Buffalo.
Cleveland's running game has ground to almost a halt after losing the right side of the offensive line (guard Kelvin Garmon and right tackle Ryan Tucker) recently. Buffalo's run defense is among the best in the league, so whatever offense Cleveland can mount is likely to come from McCown's arm. He has a good one.
The Browns just have to hope he can avoid the big mistake. Defensively, the Browns must find a way to put pressure on Drew Bledsoe, who can pick apart a defense when given time. With the Browns' secondary hurting, it's even more crucial for their front four to supply consistent heat.


Browns C Jeff Faine vs. Bills DT Sam Adams. Faine hasn't really blossomed in his second season, and the mammoth Adams is close to an immovable object. If the Browns are to have any success running between the tackles, Faine must lead the way because Cleveland's guards are a liability.

Browns CB Lewis Sanders vs. Bills WR Lee Evans. Chances are, the Browns will use Anthony Henry on Eric Moulds. The speedy Evans has caught 10 passes for 180 yards the last two weeks. Sanders has decent skills, but he was buried on the depth chart behind Daylon McCutcheon and Michael Lehan until last week. Sanders had an interception last week against New England, but also was called for a questionable-but-costly pass-interference penalty and was beaten on a long touchdown pass.

INJURY IMPACT: Jeff Faine's sore shin may limit the leverage he can get on blocks. That's a major concern against Buffalo's stout defensive tackles.

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