Notes from the Browns 23-20 pre-season loss to the Carolina Panthers:
Running Back Battle: Rueben Droughns got his first start in place of RB Lee Suggs and had 10 carries for 28 yards (2.8 avg.). He also caught a 34-yard pass reception on a short pass in the flat from QB Trent Dilfer and he took it up the sidelines. William Green spelled Droughns in the second quarter and had seven carries for 30 yards (4.3 avg.), including a touchdown. His longest run was 11 yards. He also caught two passes for five yards.
QB Derby: Doug Johnson followed Dilfer in the rotation and was not very impressive in his two series. He was 2–of-5 for 17 yards and had a couple of passes deflected. He also was sacked. The crowd was chanting for rookie Charlie Frye during Johnson's second series. Frye entered in the fourth quarter with 10:22 to play. He threw to fellow rookie WR Braylon Edwards on the first two plays. Edwards dropped the first pass and then caught the second one for no gain. Frye was blind sided by CB Dante Wesley for a 12-yard loss, but Wesley was called for a personal foul for hitting Frye in the head to give the Browns a first down. Frye hit tight end Paul Irons for a 23-yard gain on the next play to take the ball down to the Panthers' 31. He then scrambled for an 18-yard gain to the Panthers' 11. He finished just 3–of-8 for 26 yards. He rushed twice for 22 yards. Frye led the Browns on an 11 play touchdown drive on his first series to give the Browns the lead. On the first play of his second series,
Getting Personal: S Marlon McCree was flagged for hitting Edwards in the helmet in the end zone and causing Edwards to drop the ball. The penalty gave the Browns a first down inside the 10 and two plays later, RB Sultan McCullough scampered in from two yards out for the score. Earlier on the drive, CB Dante Wesley was called for a personal foul when he hit Frye in the head on a third down sack.
Romeo's Drill Paid Off: Romeo Crennel closed practice last week with a drill for about 10 minutes where he tried to get the players to jump offsides. It paid off as the Panthers tried to get the Browns to jump off side on a fourth-and-1 with 7:55 to play in the third quarter.
Cutter: WR Dennis Northcutt had four catches in the first half for 58 yards, including a 39-yarder that set up the Browns first touchdown. Northcutt also had a four-yard punt return.
Less Flags: The Browns accomplished one of their goals as they cut down on the number of penalties. The starting unit had just six for 40 yards. In the first two games the Browns had double digit penalties. They had just four in the first half, but a costly holding call on CB Ray Mickens gave the Panthers a first down after the Browns stopped the Panthers on third down and 15.
Fumbling: LB Justin Kurpeikis recovered a fumble caused by Ethan Kelley on the Panthers' 32 with 12 minutes to play in the fourth quarter and the Browns turned it into a 47-yard field goal by Dawson to cut the Panthers' lead to 16-13. Dawson missed a 35-yard attempt a few moments before. DL Alvin McKinley stripped RB DeShuan Foster of the ball in the second quarter at the Panthers' 15 and LB Ben Taylor recovered to set up the Browns first score, a 28-yard field goal by Dawson.
Sack Men: LB Kenard Lang picked up his first sack after being converted from a defensive lineman. He sacked QB Jake Delhomme for a yard loss. Later in the second quarter CB Ray Mickens sacked Delhomme.
Punting Duel: P Kyle Richardson shanked his first punt of the game as the ball went just 24 yards. His second punt went 46 yards and was out of bounds at the 12. His third punt was for 55 yards and went out of bounds at the Panthers' six. Derrick Frost's first punt went 44 yards.
Walking Wounded: CB Gary Baxter (concussion), CB Daylon McCutcheon (headaches), CB Michael Lehan (hamstring), RB Lee Suggs (ankle), OL Jonathan Dunn (ankle) and DL Amon Gordon were all inactive. RB Stephen Davis, LB Brandon Short and DE Julius Peppers were inactive for Carolina. RB Reuben Droughns started in place of Suggs, while Ray Mickens and Leigh Bodden started in place of Baxter and Lehan.
On the opening kickoff, LB Renauld Williams suffered a hip flexor and did not return. It marked the second-straight home game that a player was injured on the opening kickoff. S Brodney Pool suffered a concussion on the opening play against the Giants. DB Antwan Harris was injured in the fourth quarter, but it appeared to not be serious.