The OBR Daily News & World Report

If "if's" and "but's" were candy and nuts, it would be Christmas every day. And in Cleveland, there would be an LT jersey underneath each and every tree. But enough with the hindsight, right? Right? Anyway, feel free to weep openly about what might've been as you read the latest edition of the DN&WR. I know I did.

What might have been.

Five years ago, holding the third pick of the draft in the palm of their hands, the Cleveland Browns had the opportunity to draft LaDainian Tomlinson.

However, not only did Butch Davis, Pete Garcia & Company opt for Gerard Warren over Tomlinson, they, apparently, did not even meet or consider the TCU product and future Hall-of-Famer. Instead, Tomlinson went two picks later to the Chargers.

"I was prepared to go to Cleveland," Tomlinson said in this morning's Akron Beacon Journal. "I knew they needed a running back badly. Obviously with me being there, I thought there was a good chance I would land in Cleveland. But I never went to Cleveland on a visit, never talked to (them) at all. I don't think I even talked to them at the combine."

Now pardon me while I throw up in my mouth.

(Writer's note: I don't want to discredit the entire organization for that decision as there were a good number of people in that war room who wanted to take current Saints running back Deuce McAlister over Warren but were overruled by Davis.)

On Wednesday, Kellen "You Can't Spell Winslow Without An 'I'" Winslow likened this Sunday's game against the San Diego Gates to a heavyweight tight end match up, with the Chargers' Antonio Gates, a two-time Pro Bowler, apparently playing the role of Spinks to Winslow's Tyson.

Winslow reiterated his off-season stance that he's the best TE in football even at ninety percent, telling reporters that "I said I was the best. I am the best, and I'm going to prove it on Sunday."

Needless to say, the Kent State product did not take kindly to Winslow's words, particularly since they come from a player with a grand total of nine games played in three seasons.

"For you to play in seven straight games and decide you're the best tight end in the league, I don't think that's appropriate to say," said Gates. "There are certain things that I will never let get to me. Obviously he's not a person I would be worried about. He hasn't played long enough."

Before the 2004 draft, then-North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers was often times compared to former Browns great Bernie Kosar. Partly due to his gangliness and partly due to his unorthodox throwing style, draft gurus and NFL scouts alike attached Kosar's name to Rivers in a good many pre-draft scouting reports.

In his conference call yesterday, Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer--who was Kosar's head coach during the QB's first four seasons in the league--did nothing to dismiss those comparisons. If anything, he added to the Kosar mystique attached to Rivers' name.

"Bernie stepped in very early and had a terrific career and we really never missed a beat with him," said Schottenheimer. "Philip is very much like Bernie in that regard. Their knowledge and understanding of the game, their ability to anticipate throws, their decision-making. All of those things I would view Philip very favorably to Bernie."

First Ryan Tucker, and now Daven Holly.

This Season of the Bizarre has taken yet another twist as Holly has missed the last two days of practice with an undisclosed illness. This latest development comes on the heels of Tucker missing last Sunday's win over the Jets due to his own case of "mystery illness". The offensive tackle has not been seen in Berea in nearly two weeks because of the malady.

As for Holly, his illness is apparently different from what Tucker is suffering, but the club still does not know--at least that is their public stance--what is going on with the cornerback.

"I spoke with him (Wednesday) and the doctors haven't told him anything," head coach Romeo Crennel said. "He does not want us to say anything until he finds out what's going on."

Crennel also dismissed the idea that Holly was suffering from a staph infection.

Wide receiver Dennis Northcutt, who has been sidelined due to a rib injury, has progressed enough through the course of this week that the organization is somewhat confident he'll be able to return this Sunday. If he does return, he should be available for punt-return duty as well as his likely role as the third receiver.

And that sound you just heard was Joshua Cribbs breathing a huge sigh of relief.

As we have been telling you in premium stories over the last week or so, Browns defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is being talked about in Michigan State circles as a candidate to replace John L. Smith as the Spartans' head coach.

Now, The Sporting News is jumping on that bandwagon.

According to TSN writer Tom Dienhart, the choice as Smith's replacement will likely come down to Grantham or LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

That very well may be the case in the end as it looks as though Steve Mariucci, the early front-runner for the position even before Smith was "let go", has let it be known through his agent that he is not interested in the position. This in spite of Mariucci's close friendship with MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo.

During the Browns' loss earlier this season to the Panthers, Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams suffered a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the last three games. The rookie suffered the injury on a tackle by massive nose tackle Ted Washington.

Apparently, that hit has led Williams to question Washington's listed weight of 360 pounds.

"Nah, he's bigger than that. Trust me, I know; he was on my ankle," Williams told the Winston-Salem Journal.

FAST FACT: In three career games against the Browns, Tomlinson has averaged 137.7 yards a game and scored four touchdowns. This season, the Browns defense has given up an average of 136 yards per game on the ground.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "So rather than put three guys on Shawne, maybe now we only have to put two on his replacement."--Browns head coach Romeo Crennel, on how the loss of Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman to suspension will affect his club's game plan.

QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE SEQUEL: "I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I think I was destined to be where I am now. If I would have gone to Cleveland, I think I would have had a successful career considering the amount of time I put into working hard. I try to be the best and I don't think it would have been different being in Cleveland."-- Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, making me sick to my stomach yet again.

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