The OBR Daily News & World Report

As the beverages chill and the dip stews, pull up a chair and get your game day started the best way we know how. By popping the top on said beverage. Then, after you get back from your twelve-step "meeting", read the latest edition of the DN&WR.

With Gary Baxter officially ruled out of today's game, the cornerback focus now shifts squarely onto the ankle of Leigh Bodden.

As of late last night, Bodden has, at best, a 50-50 chance of playing today and will be the dictionary definition of a game-time decision. Earlier in the week, Bodden told reporters that there was a 60-40 chance of him suiting up against the Panthers.

The Cleveland Browns brass, in conjunction with the medical staff, are weighing the risk of Bodden further injuring the ankle—which could leave him out for an extended period of time—versus having a less-than-100% corner taking the field against perhaps the best receiving tandem in the league.

Of course, Bodden at 10% is head and shoulders above Ralph Brown at 120%, so that must be factored entered into the equation.

Yes, yes, yes.

For the umpteenth time, yes, tight end Kellen Winslow will be in the starting lineup today in spite of the fact that he was again held out of portions of practice this week.

You might as well get used to seeing "Questionable: Kellen Winslow (knee)" every week on the injury report for the foreseeable future if not the rest of the season. You might as well get used to hearing reports that Winslow sat out this portion of practice or that part of a team drill.

Not only is Winslow feeling the normal—with "normal" meaning "no cause for alarm yet"—soreness that accompanies not one but two major surgeries in less than a year, he also had not played in nearly two years before returning this pre-season.

Obviously, being away from a game as violent as the NFL, it takes time for the body to get used to the weekly beatings that occur, particularly a player such as Winslow who physically lays it on the line every single second he is on the field.

Sometimes, things really are something that simple. And this is such a case.

According to Terry Pluto in this morning's "View From Pluto", Simon Fraser has impressed the defensive coaching staff and could take some playing time away from fellow defensive end Alvin McKinley.

Fraser, a member of THE Ohio State University's National Championship team in 2002, has been adequate in replacing the injured Orpheus Roye, although he's been far from having his travel agent booking a February flight for Hawaii.

In other words, his increased playing time could be more of an indictment on the play of McKinley than what Fraser has brought to the table. It also brings into focus exactly why the Browns went hard after veteran Robaire Smith, who was released in the final round of cuts by the Texans and eventually signed with the Titans.

After working out both Ray Mickens and Michael Hawkins this past Tuesday, the Browns have not been in contact with the agent of either cornerback, The OBR has learned.

Mickens, of course, spent all of last season with the Browns, while Hawkins spent last season with the Packers.

There are just some guys in sports who you find yourself rooting for, although no one who has ever worn pinstripes or black and gold immediately comes to mind.

Jerame Perry is one of those for whom to root.

Todd Porter of the Canton Repository does a tremendous job in spinning the tale of Perry's near-death experience after suffering a ruptured spleen during his college playing days.

If you don't find yourself cheering for the guy after reading Porter's piece, you either have no heart or are from Pittsburgh. Or both. At which point you'd be sans heart and teeth, which is not good.

Lawrence Vickers fell ill on Thursday and didn't practice, but came back to practice on Friday and showed no adverse effects of the undisclosed illness. The rookie fullback is expected to be available for today's game.

FAST FACT: The Browns and Panthers will be meeting for only the third time, with the Panthers coming away victorious in the first two. Carolina is also 3-0 against Cleveland in pre-season games.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "They love football, and they love NASCAR. But if it's a choice, they're gonna go to the race."—current Browns and former Panthers defensive end Alvin McKinley, on where the passion of the Carolina fan base really lies.

QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE SEQUEL: "I'm done with it. I did it last year as some fun. It turned into something that went into a direction that I was not trying to take it. What do I want to be remembered as? The biggest impact in my play is, I have three kids - two boys and a little girl, a daddy's girl. She's not a boy, but she likes doing what Daddy does. If Daddy does something that is not right, how can I be a person who tells her that it's wrong?"—Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, on ending his post-touchdown celebration battle with his former junior college teammate Chad Johnson.

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