OBR Daily News & World Report: 9/16

Wherein the Cleveland Browns prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals, and practice is more "intense" and hope springs anew...

Well, it only took five days, but finally, at least publicly, players are showing some anger and embarrassment over their pitiful performance in the season-opening loss to the Saints.

Better late than never, I guess.

In particular, linebacker Andra Davis expressed the pain that many fans were feeling following the debacle.

"We're at the bottom," Davis told reporters.

"It can't get any worse. It's got to get better. You tell the fans that however bad they feel, we feel 10 times worse… I can understand their frustration because I'm frustrated."

*****

You have to give credit to Leigh Bodden, not only for his play on the field but for his response to getting dragged into the war of words between teammate Kellen Winslow and Bengals receiver Chad Johnson.

The quietly confident Bodden, unlike his head coach, appreciated Winslow's comment earlier in the week that he would shut down Johnson.  And, in the process of defending Winslow, the corner took some of the heat off of the tight end.

"I hope everybody in the locker room feels that, about all our corners," Bodden said. "I feel that about all our players. He was just standing up for me and letting everybody know how he feels. I feel I deserve some respect. If not, then I'm just going to have to take the respect out on the field."

Bodden also had a response to Johnson's "I cannot be stopped, period" statement on Tuesday.

"Everybody has their own opinion of the game," Bodden said. "He felt like he wasn't stopped and I felt differently. All that's going to change Sunday. I'll just play and see how it goes."

Johnson's claim notwithstanding, Bodden shut down the receiver in the last meeting between the two clubs, holding the Pro Bowler to 2 catches and 22 yards.

*****

A profile of Charlie Frye appears in this morning's Cincinnati Enquirer, and the piece features something from the quarterback that most fans of the Browns would never think of doing.

Thanking the dearly departed Trent Dilfer.

Frye showered the ex-Browns and current 49ers QB with praise, telling the paper that he "took a lot of things from" watching how Trent approached the game.

"About how he prepared for the game. Watching film," Frye said of how Dilfer helped him progress. "He helped me out a lot. I can't thank Trent enough for the things he did for me."

*****

After struggling in Week One, Series One against the speed-rushing of Will Smith, left tackle Kevin Shaffer hopes to have better success this weekend against a different Smith.

Justin is the Smith in question this week, and the fifth-year defensive end is coming off a career day against the Chiefs.  And, after watching Cincinnati's Smith and his three sacks all week in film study, Shaffer could look to kill two birds with one stone.

Redemption for himself and, at least for a week, halting Smith's bid for a big-money free agent contract at the end of the season.

"I'm definitely looking forward to redeeming myself a little bit," Shaffer said.  "(Smith's) more of a power guy. More of an into-you guy, in your pads. Not as much a run-around-you guy."

Charlie Frye could not be reached for comment as he was being treated with a pre-emptive IV while looking over the 2006 L.L. Bean body cast catalog.

*****

In a sign that the head coach was none too pleased with his squad's effort in the loss, Romeo Crennel had players in full pads for practice on Wednesday and Thursday.  While such a move is not unheard of, especially this early in the season, it is unusual.

Crennel told reporters that the players were more focused this week in practice than they were last week.  Shaffer told reporters that practice was more intense this week.

Hopefully, that focus and intensity will make it to the field and not get lost somewhere along I-71.

*****

Speaking of intensity, the Browns weren't the only team feeling there was a little more of it this week.

Unfortunately for the Browns, the Bengals are feeling the same way about their week of practice.  And they are coming off an impressive win, not a distressing loss.

"It's more up-tempo," rookie cornerback Johnathan Joseph told Bengals beat writers. "That's the way it should be week in and week out."

*****

Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon was downgraded from questionable to doubtful on the team's latest injury report.  The DB might as well be listed as "out" because he will not take the field yet again as he continues his slow recovery from minor arthroscopic surgery in early August.

Crennel said after practice yesterday that McCutcheon was not moving as well as he needed to move, offering further clues that the CB will be held out yet again.

*****

Both wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and offensive tackle Levi Jones have been downgraded from probable to questionable in the latest Bengals' injury report.  However, both are expected to be in uniform and, at least, start the game.

Neither player participated in team drills yesterday.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Bengals would insert rookie Andre Whitworth into the starting lineup, but possibly not in place of Jones should the veteran not be able to go.

There's a possibility that head coach Marvin Lewis would move starting left guard Eric Steinbach to left tackle, with Whitworth sliding over to guard.  The Bengals would be concerned over a rookie protecting the blindside of QB Carson Palmer, who is still limited in his mobility following reconstructive surgery on his knee.

*****

According to the NFL, the Browns were the heaviest team in the AFC based on their opening-day roster, weighing in at a robust average of 250.94 pounds.

Of course, that is with Ted Washington factored into the total.  Subtract the nose tackle from the roster, and the Browns would likely plummet to the depths of the Colts, who bring up the rear at an average of 237.72 pounds. 

Just lopping off just one of Washington's thighs would probably bring the Browns back to middle-of-the-pack teams like the Steelers (247.51) and the Bengals (247.66)

While they were first in the AFC, they were third in the NFL behind the Cardinals (at a whopping 257.36) and the Eagles (251.53).

*****

You can chalk up yet another win for THE Ohio State University over the University of Michigan as the Buckeyes saw 39 of their alumni take the field for the opening of the season last weekend.  That total was good enough for a tie for fourth with Georgia, while Michigan's total of 36 was right behind the Buckeyes in sixth.

Miami (Fla.), Florida State and Tennessee were the top three schools with 42, 41 and 40, respectively, while Florida (35), Nebraska (32), LSU (31) and Penn State (29) rounded out the top ten.

The University of Texas was nowhere to be found on the list, much like they were on the field a week ago today.

*****

As of 8:10 this morning, a poll on the Dayton Daily News website asking who would win the Battle of Ohio had the Bengals winning handily, 82.81% to 17.19%.

Yeah, that seems about right.

*****

BLACK & WHITE

From Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich, on his lack of mobility: "I'm not a slow quarterback, I'm just the slowest black one."

From Cincinnati defensive end Justin Smith, on what it means to be a "high-motor" player: "Being a white guy. That's how they describe every white guy."

*****

FAST FACT: There have been 65 meetings in the Battle of Ohio, with the Browns totaling 1,354 points and the Bengals 1,345.  That nine-point differential is the second lowest in NFL history (based on a minimum of 25 games), trailing only the six-point difference in 36 meetings between the Bills (750) and Chiefs (744).

*****

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The more experience you gain together, the better we're going to be. Continuity is great for an offensive line. You'd like to say we've been together for several years. We haven't, but we've been together for one full game. That's more than you could say before. We know each other a little better."—offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer, on the ongoing process of getting the offensive line to work as one, preferably quality, unit.

QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE SEQUEL: "He's one of those Ben Roethlisberger types. They find a way to get away from people and make plays with their feet as well as their arms. He's definitely going to be a challenge. We've got to make sure he's bottled up."—Bengals linebacker David Pollack, on quarterback Charlie Frye.


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