BEREA – Chris Crocker has always felt his time would come in the NFL.
Romeo Crennel agrees and Crocker is now the safety at strong safety for the Browns.
"I have always expected to be a starter," Crocker said. "With no disrespect to the other guys, that has been my goal since I came to the Browns. I didn't want to be just a special teams guy.
"I've always wanted to play at the highest level of football."
Crocker, 25, is in his third year with the Browns after being a third-round draft choice from Marshall in 2003. He has 11 tackles, including a pass break up and a sack against Cincinnati.
Crocker (5-11, 192 pounds) emerged as a starter after rotating with Brian Russell and Sean Jones during the preseason. He broke into the starting lineup at free safety mid-season of 2004, but suffered an injury to his bicep that sidelined him for the final four games of the season.
"Chris Crocker had been a starter for some time last year," Crennel said. "We looked at a rotation. When Chris went in during his rotation, he's continued to do a nice job. When he got his opportunity, he took advantage of it."
Crocker started one game as a rookie and appeared in all 16 games, mostly on special teams. He had 28 tackles from scrimmage and 11 special teams tackles.
Last year, Crocker moved into the starting free safety spot after the bye week, playing in 12 games with five starts. Crocker's first career interception was last year against the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger and he returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. He totaled 61 tackles in 2004 with two sacks and the interception. He also had 12 special team tackles.
Crocker feels the secondary is coming together and thinks the group is meshing.
"I feel good playing together as a secondary," Crocker said. "I think we have a pretty good chemistry."
Suggs Ready: RB Lee Suggs has yet to carry the ball from the line of scrimmage this year. He was activated last week against the Colts and caught two passes for seven yards. He's hoping to get a chance to carry the ball this week.
"I'm trying to prepare as if I'm going to play," Suggs said. "I'm just trying to get back to the top of the depth chart, but everyone out here is trying to do that."
Crennel said there's a chance the Browns could use both Reuben Droughns and Suggs together in the backfield.
"With Suggs, if the game plan calls for more of him, then we'll use him more," Crennel said. "I'm looking for every runner to put forth their best performance when they're in the game.
(Suggs) hasn't been on the field enough to determine that," he said. "We might have a situation where we would have both half backs out there together."
Suggs thinks the Browns can use all three of the backs in conjunction with each other.
"Reuben is like a power back—a banger," Suggs said. "I think all three of our running backs have different styles and can keep the defense off balance."
Injury Update: Crennel said everyone is expected to be ready to practice on Wednesday.
"We should have everyone out there," Crennel said. "Orpheus (Roye) (knee) didn't practice Monday, but we expect him out there today."
Crennel gave a brief assessment of some of the players who have been injured:
LB Matt Stewart (knee): "He looked halfway decent with no pads on Monday," Crennel said. "Stewart hasn't played in a while. If he can go it seems logical you'd rotate him in there. "
WR/KR Joshua Cribbs (knee): "Cribbs looked okay moving around," Crennel said. "We'll see how he looks and determine if he gives us the best chance to win."
Cribbs said he's coming along pretty well.
"I'm having no problem running full speed straight ahead," Cribbs said. "I haven't went full go from side-to-side, but so far so good. However, the coaches will make the final decision on if I'll play."
TE Aaron Shea (shoulder): "Shea was on the field and he might be hurting a little, but don't think it will keep him off the field."
No Decision on Jameson: S Michael Jameson is serving the last week of his NFL mandated four-week suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Crennel said the Browns have a week exemption to make a decision on his status.
"He still has another week and there's an exemption," he said. "So we have a couple of weeks before we need to make a decision."