Heiden, Tight Ends Ready to Carry the Load

Fred Greetham reports from Wednesday practice in Berea on the progress of the Browns tight ends, and more!

BEREA – One of the forgotten players on the Browns offense has been tight end Steve Heiden. Many thought he would've been replaced long ago when the Browns drafted Kellen Winslow last year.

However, with the turn of events in Winslow's career, Heiden has capitalized on the opportunity. With the opener Sunday, Heiden is the only tight end on the roster healthy and with a full grasp of the system.

Aaron Shea has been nursing a strained shoulder muscle and is questionable for the game. Billy Miller was acquired Sunday and is just learning the offense.

Heiden had the best game of his six-year career last year against the Bengals on Nov. 28 when he caught seven passes for 82 yards, including three touchdowns in a 58-48 loss.

"It was one of those crazy games," Heiden said. "The (Bengals) might have underestimated me, but I think Kelly (Holcomb) just did a good job of spreading the ball around."

Heiden had his best year as a pro with 28 catches for 287 yards (10.3 avg.), including five touchdowns. He has 77 catches in his career for 613 yards and eight scores.

Quarterback Trent Dilfer is expected to count on the tight ends heavily in this offense.

"I'm very confident in the tight ends," Dilfer said. "I have a great deal of confidence in Aaron (Shea) and Steve (Heiden)"

"It's good to know that Trent has confidence in the tight ends," Heiden said. "If we can keep doing the job on third down and moving the chains, the more balls we'll get."

Miller is a pass receiving tight end, but has just been with the team for two practices.

"I've only been here a couple of days, but I like the way they use the tight ends," Miller said.

Dilfer thinks Miller will be able to contribute as quickly as this Sunday against the Bengals.

"Billy has come in and seems to grasp the system quickly."

RB by Committee: Crennel said he plans on playing both running backs, William Green and Rueben Droughns in Sunday's game. Lee Suggs is listed as questionable for the game. Droughns is listed on the depth chart as the starter.

"It's close (the competition)," Crennel said. "I plan on playing both of them."

Droughns was slowed by a hamstring injury early in training camp, but has come on strong recently. He had 60 yards on just nine carries, including a touchdown against the Bears in the final preseason game.

"Injuries happen," Droughns said. "I'm glad to get it out of the way early."

Crennel plans on using the hot hand.

"They're both hard, tough inside runners," he said. "I think they're very close and it will come down to who I think will give us the best chance to win."

Dilfer said he likes the competition in the backfield.

"It's great to have competition back there," he said. "I have confidence in whoever is back there."

Droughns thinks the backfield sets the tempo for the game.

"As running backs, we feel we set the tone for the team," Droughns said. "I think William and I are both aggressive type runners. We're similar in that way."

Cutch Ready: CB Daylon McCutcheon says he feels he's ready to start Sunday's game against the Bengals, despite missing all but one of the preseason games.

"I plan on starting Sunday," McCutcheon said. "I feel good. So far, there have been no setbacks."

Crennel said the Bears game was important for McCutcheon to have played in.

"I feel better about Daylon now that he knocked off some of the rust (against Chicago)," Crennel said. "He made some tackles and has been effective in practice. The experience he has playing in the NFL will help us."

McCutcheon was voted as the Professional Football Writers Association "Dino Lucarelli Good Guy Award" recipient for the 2004 season and was presented his award Wednesday morning.

Baxter Doubtful: RCB Gary Baxter is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game with a concussion, but he thinks he's close to being ready.

"I'm feeling better, but this is an injury you have to be patient with," Baxter said. "I'm a warrior, but it will hurt me really bad if I can't be out there on Sunday."

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