Browns, Chargers On Opposite Side of Breaks

The won-loss records of the Browns and Chargers are mirror images of each other, with the Browns at 3-10 and the Chargers at 10-3. The team's records are not the only way that the two squads are opposites. Take a look at their injured reserve lists, for instance...

Terry Robiskie walked off the Browns practice field Wednesday and proclaimed the day a success.

"Because we got through it and no one got hurt," Cleveland's interim coach said.

Such is the sad state of affairs with the Browns these days. A talent-deficient team can't afford injuries, and the Browns have been ravaged by them.

Cleveland has lost 16 players, including nine starters. Center Jeff Faine is the latest to be lost for the season. He tore his left MCL in Sunday's 37-7 loss at Buffalo.

Their opponent this week, San Diego, has lost only six players on IR. Wide receiver Reche Caldwell was the lone starter.

The injury factor is a big reason for Cleveland's 3-10 record and San Diego's 10-3 mark.

Take the example of the team's projected starting tight ends. San Diego's Antonio Gates has 73 catches and 11 touchdowns.

"Gates is the real deal, there's no question about that," Robiskie said. "He's a playmaker. They put him everywhere. He can line up out wide or tight. They do a great job trying to match him up on linebackers, match up him on defensive backs."

Meanwhile, Cleveland's Kellen Winslow Jr. has missed the last 11 games with a broken fibula.

Robiskie and Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were roommates when they coached with the Redskins, so it's particularly frustrating for Robiskie to watch his friend be able to deploy Gates while Winslow is in the shop.

"A lot of what he's doing with Gates is what we had set early in the year for Kellen Winslow. It's kind of the year you were looking for with Kellen."

The Browns' problems go well beyond injuries, of course. Butch Davis was given almost unconditional power, and he did little productive with it. The Browns' offensive line is in shambles, in large part because Cleveland has not bothered to draft a guard or tackle in the first five rounds of any of its six drafts since returning to the NFL. With Faine out, left tackle Ross Verba is the only remaining starter from the beginning of the season.

Against the Bills last week, Cleveland's line was manhandled. It didn't help that quarterback Luke McCown played like the rookie he is. But Jeff Garcia is out for the season with a knee injury and Kelly Holcomb is trying to come back from three cracked ribs.

The Browns desperately need a running game to take pressure off McCown, but the line and running back William Green have been unable to provide it. Green has been a major disappointment. Excluding a 46-yard gain against Cincinnati when he ran through a gaping hole, Green has managed only 49 yards in 37 carries the last three games. He also has fumbled each of the last two weeks.

The Browns may get some help if Lee Suggs can return from a turf toe injury that has kept him out for three games. Unlike Green, Suggs has a knack for creating something out of nothing. The line has been providing plenty of nothing.

Robiskie seemed more interested in getting Suggs back than in preserving McCown or having Holcomb return.

"I'll cross my fingers on the quarterbacks and I'll keep praying about the running back," Robiskie said. "If we can get Lee back, we'll see what we can get done."


SERIES HISTORY - 20th meeting. San Diego Chargers lead 11-7-1. The Browns played host to San Diego a year ago and lost 26-20 when LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 200 yards and a touchdown.


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