Berea Report: Third and Long

Thursday in Berea, the Browns emphasized getting better on third downs, while Gary Baxter (pictured) wrestled with having to watch from the sidelines until 2006. Plus, a practice squad running back gets the call up...

Getting better on third down was a priority Thursday on the practice fields in Berea.

The Browns are tied for 29th in third down conversions. They have converted 25 of 79 third down situations, a success rate of only 31.6 percent.

"Everybody's involved on third down," Crennel said Thursday. "We have to protect better. We have to run better routes. We have to catch better. We have to throw better. Also, I told (the players) that maybe I have to call better plays on third down to try to help us get over the hump and be more efficient.

"We're all in it together, so we're going to work at it together and try to do better. I know that if we can move the sticks, we have a chance to move the ball and put some points on the board."

The Browns have been in third-and-two or third-and-three 19 times and converted 30 percent of their chances. They have been in third-and-four, third-and-five or third-and-six 22 times and converted 40 percent. He was at a loss to explain why the success rate was higher at the longer distance.

"On third-and-seven to 10, we fell back," Crennel said. "On third-and-11-plus, we weren't very good at all."

Baxter makes an appearance:
If you could have been there you would have heard the anguish in Gary Baxter's voice.

Baxter was in the locker room Thursday and talked to reporters for the first time since a pectoral tear Oct. 23 ended his season. Baxter said he was hurt making a tackle. Doctors operated the next day.

"There's an emptiness I have," he said. "That's what makes this a big challenge for me. There's nothing to fill that gap but playing football. I have to stay positive.

"I told my teammates I'm going to coach my butt off. I'm going to become Coach Baxter. I'm serious. I'm going to try to help them every way I can."

Baxter should be as good as new by minicamp next June.

Running back added:
Running back Jason Wright was activated from the practice squad to fill the roster vacancy opened when Billy Miller was released. The Browns need him because Reuben Droughns is the only healthy, experienced back on the roster.

Wright, 5-10, 210 pounds, was with the 49ers and Falcons before signing with the Browns. He had three carries with Atlanta for 10 yards.

Wright rushed for 2,625 yards at Northwestern, fourth all-time for the Wildcats.

Injury news: Running back William Green (ankle) is doubtful and running back Lee Suggs (thumb) is out for the game against the Titans Sunday.

Safety Chris Crocker (shoulder) was upgraded from questionable to probable Thursday. Defensive back Ray Mickens (groin), defensive end Alvin McKinley (elbow) and guard Joe Andruzzi (knee) remain questionable.


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