Browns Mission: Slow Jamal Lewis

Remember 2003? How Jamal Lewis single-handedly led the Ravens to two wins over the Browns by repeatedly breaking huge runs? Fred Greetham reports on the Browns continuing need to neutralize the Ravens talented, and still dangerous, running back.

BEREA – The one thing that has been evident in the first four games of the 2005 season is the fact the Browns have not been able to stop the run.

The Browns have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three out of the four games they've played. Rudi Johnson rushed for over 100 yards in the season opener for the Bengals, as did Edgerrin James for the Colts in the third game and Thomas Jones for the Bears in the fourth game.

The Browns are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing defense, giving up 137.8 yards a game.

Crennel said the Browns deficiency against the run will eventually lead to disaster, unless they get it corrected.

"It will catch up with us," he said. "We're working on that. We're making slow progress. If we keep working on it, the rushing yardage will go down."

It's not good news for the Browns that this week's task is stopping Jamal Lewis—amongst others.

"Offensively, (the Ravens) have a running back in Lewis who has strong ability and can definitely hurt you," Crennel said. "(Todd) Heap presents a lot of match up problems.

"(Derrick) Mason, the wide receiver has excellent quickness and runs good routes," Crennel said. "They have a number of problems that they present. We are going to have to play our best game to have a chance to win."

Lewis has given the Browns nightmares in the past few years. He set an NFL record with 295 yards against the Browns on Sept. 14, 2003.

Lewis has started the first quarter of the 2005 season slower than he is accustomed to. He has 233 yards, including a touchdown to lead the Ravens ground game thus far in 2005. He's also caught seven passes for 53 yards, including a touchdown.

In contrast, Reuben Droughns has 276 yards rushing and has caught 14 passes for 104 yards for the Browns.

Chester Taylor—whom the Browns signed to an offer sheet in the off-season—spells Lewis at running back. He has 110 yards rushing and has caught 11 passes for 91 yards.

"(Lewis) might not be putting up the numbers, but he's still a good back," Crennel said.

Lewis feels the rushing game is starting to come together. He rushed for 95 yards last week against the Lions.

"It's getting there," Lewis said. "It's coming along slowly, but surely."

Ravens coach Brian Billick said Lewis is starting to put it all together.

"He's really got back into a rhythm the last two weeks," Billick said.


Green Good in Practice: Crennel was asked why he has been using William Green to spell RB Reuben Droughns rather than Lee Suggs, prior to Suggs breaking his thumb.

Green has just 12 yards on seven carries in his limited duty thus far this season. Suggs has no carries from scrimmage.

"One of the things in practice is we're not hitting," Crennel said. "You're going against the scout team. In a game, you're going against the opponent and they are hitting. All I can go by is what he looks like in practice. It's been an issue because three guys who have quality and trying to get them all some time."


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