MINNEAPOLIS - The Browns' locker room looked like anything but a winning one after their 27-15 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings Saturday at the Metrodome.
There should have been reason to feel good about the plane trip home. Running back Jamel White continued his excellent play by churning out 101 total yards in the first quarter, including 81 through the air.
Quarterback Tim Couch looked sharp as he completed 7 of 9 passes for 138 yards with a 45-yard scoring strike to White.
It all seemed insignificant afterwards. News that linebacker Jamir Miller has a Achille's tendon injury that could end his season put a damper on the scene.
Miller was seen on a cart outside of the visitor's locker room. He was understandably upset about an injury that seemed to occur without significant contact.
"I don't know if it was a contact injury," Miller said. "All I was doing was coming off a block."
Miller's absence would create a huge defensive hole for coach Butch Davis to fill. Marquis Smith worked in the base defense after Miller went down, but it's not certain if he'll be Miller's replacement.
"We have three preseason games to try to find an answer," Davis said. "We'll start looking at shuffles we might be able to make and what combination of the best three linebackers we can get on the field at the same time."
The players dressed quietly before boarding a bus for the airport.
"It's a big blow for us," Couch said. "Obviously Jamir is a Pro Bowl player and the heart of our defense. We're going to have to have some guys step up. The thing about preseason is you want to get through it with everyone healthy. Jamir is one of the main guys. I just feel bad for him."
Miller wasn't certain if the injury will end his season. However, it's rare when a player returns from a serious Achille's injury in the same season.
The Browns offense looked crisp in the first quarter when the first team was on the field. White, who was given a starting assignment, ran with authority, and his speed was evident on the touchdown play.
"I think I did all right," White said. "It wasn't what I wanted. You always expect yourself to better than what you actually do."
Couch was on his game on the game's initial series, driving the Browns 72 yards on four plays. The march culminated with the scoring pass to White, who worked free behind safety Willie Offord.
The pass was thrown to the outside of White, who was running along the right sideline. He made a difficult catch while barely staying inbounds and scored untouched.
"We work in practice all the time for give ourselves a 5-yard box (from the sideline)," White said. "I didn't give myself a 5-yard box. It was a good catch. It's the kind of thing you have to do when you're trying to make the team."
The Vikings answered with a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive that culminated on a 4-yard touchdown run by Moe Williams. Daunte Culpepper completed seven of nine passes for 55 yards.
Kicker Phil Dawson provided the only points of the second quarter as the Browns took a 13-7 lead at halftime. Dawson was good on two field-goal kicks of 45 yards.
It was all Cleveland in the second half. Rookie cornerback Kalvin Pearson intercepted a Shaun Hill pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. The pass, which was intended for running back James Wofford, was tipped, and Pearson pulled it in on the run and sidestepped Hill near the Vikings' 5.
Browns backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb completed a three-play, 58-yard scoring march with a 5-yard pass to tight end Mark Campbell. Campbell slipped behind coverage and was wide open in the back of the end zone.
The score was set up when Holcomb connected with rookie receiver Andre Davis on a 52-yard completion. Davis ran a sprint route and broke free behind strong safety Brian Russell.
The final touchdown came when Vikings lineman Bennitte Waddell fell on a fumble in the end zone.
ON THE SIDE: Middle linebacker Earl Holmes and offensive guard Tre Johnson were among six players that didn't dress for the Browns. Holmes said afterwards that he plans to play Saturday at home against Detroit.
Also not playing were fullback J.J. Johnson, tight end Alvin Morrow, defensive lineman Michael Josiah and defensive lineman Tyrone Rogers. Johnson could be out of action for several weeks with a neck injury. Morrow has a right shoulder injury. Rogers returned to Montgomery, Ala., to attend funeral services for his father, who suffered a stroke earlier this week.