Thus far, Kamerion Wimbley, at least according to head coach Romeo Crennel, has kept his screw-ups to a minimum while making enough positive plays to allow the defensive staff to entrust the rookie with a starting position.
Part of the reason for Wimbley's early success—not that you'd know it from the national press, by the way—is obviously the linebacker's God-given ability. Another, less-trumpeted factor is that the Florida State product was in camp from jump street, a fact that is not lost on Wimbley's agent.
"All of these moron agents are worried about how much did (their player) get versus the slot? All we knew was that we wanted to get Kamerion a fair deal relative to the cap, a nice increase from last year, and to be there on time," Joe Linta told the Columbus Dispatch.
Wimbley's three sacks in the first four games of the season are seventh in the AFC and fourteenth in the entire league. He's also second among rookies in sacks, trailing only Chicago defensive end Mark Anderson's three and a half.
The play of Wimbley has helped the Browns improve over their 2005 pass rush, which wasn't so much a rush as it was an elderly couple on a leisurely Sunday drive with the left turn signal in a perpetual state of blinking.
Last season, the Browns were dead last in the NFL with 23 sacks. This year, their 10 sacks have them on pace for 40 for the season.
Speaking of sack leaders, the Browns will be facing one of the NFL's best this weekend in Carolina.
Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers is tied for the league lead in sacks with five, and the Browns head coach has nothing but praise for the second overall pick of the 2002 draft.
"He is phenomenal," Crennel told reporters when asked about the defensive end.
"He has height, long legs and long arms. He has a burst off the line and explosion at the line of scrimmage. Watch how he pursues the football. When balls are run away from him, he'll make tackles on the other sideline."
Ryan Tucker will be charged with slowing down Peppers as the DE spends the majority of the snaps on the left side of the defensive line.
Get that knee some rest, Ryan. You're going to need it.
Signs are pointing toward Gary Baxter possibly making a return to the field this Sunday against the Panthers. The cornerback is practicing with the team this week after missing the first win of the season with a nagging pectoral strain.
Baxter is currently listed as questionable and will likely be a game-time decision.
Those same signs, though, are also pointing toward Leigh Bodden being unavailable. After missing the second-half of the win over Oakland with a sprained ankle, Bodden has yet to practice this week and has been walking around Berea with a boot on the injured ankle.
With Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson the starting wide receivers, it's critical that at least one of the combination of Baxter and Bodden are in uniform and in the starting lineup.
While Daven Holly has the ability to somewhat hang with either Smith or Johnson, Ralph Brown, who would start if both Baxter and Bodden are no-go's, doesn't. He simply doesn't possess the size to lock down Johnson, but he compensates for that fact by not having the coverage ability to keep a long leash on Smith let alone a short one.
The linebacker has been slowed by a calf injury and has started the last two games after being active, but not seeing the field, against the Bengals.
This weekend, Charlie Frye will face the very same team that just two weeks ago knocked Chris Simms out, in all likelihood, for the balance of the 2006 regular season with a ruptured spleen.
One would think that Frye would need to be concerned, but, after watching the borderline illegal beating the QB took at the hands of the Ravens, it's apparent that he has no spleen to rupture.
Or any other internal organs, for that matter.
For those that were worried about this area losing one of the best Browns' beat writers in the business, you can breathe a little easier this morning.
The OBR has learned that Pat McManamon will be staying on the Browns beat with the Akron Beacon Journal, a fact which was confirmed by McManamon himself.
The veteran writer was originally slated to be laid off later on this month, but enough employees of the Beacon Journal took voluntary layoffs or early retirements that McManamon was able to retain his position with the paper.
FAST FACT: The Panthers have eight sacks as a team, and every single one of those has come from a member of the defensive line.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't get wide-eyed if they are down or not. Whether it's home or away, I get wide-eyed just being on the field. Whoever is out there, they feel confident in those guys just like my team feels confident in me. I just play. I don't have time to focus on who's playing and who's not."—Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, who should be able to play this Sunday despite having his eyes pop out of their socket after viewing the Browns' injury report and the healthy cornerbacks on the depth chart.
QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE SEQUEL: "We need to try not to dig a hole that we have to come back all of the time."—quarterback Charlie Frye, on his club's penchant for falling behind early and often.