Browns-Bucs: It's Gameday!

Another Christmas Eve game for the Browns, and we're hoping for better results than last year. Here's the relevant info and links, including a pointer to our new Gameday Forum for subscribers! Barry and Fred will be at the stadium. See you there, or see you online!!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-11) at Cleveland Browns (4-10)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 12/24/06

SURFACE: Grass

TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, J.C. Pearson

GAMEDAY FORUM: Click here

CHAT ROOM: Click here

WATERCOOLER GAME THREAD: Click here

SERIES: 7th meeting. Cleveland leads the series 5-1. The Bucs gained their only win against the Browns in 2002, Jon Gruden's first season with the Bucs.

2006 RANKINGS: Bucs: offense 30th (29th rush, 26th pass); defense 23rd (17th rush, 23rd pass). Browns: offense 29th (30th rush, 22nd pass); defense 31st (29th rush, 17th pass)

PREDICTION: Browns 16-13

KEYS TO THE GAME: Bucs coach Jon Gruden has finally pulled the plug on struggling rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski in favor of veteran Tim Rattay, who gave the offense a shot in the arm in relief against Chicago last weekend. However, Rattay will now get a full-game taste of playing behind a young offensive line and perhaps without ailing RB Carnell Williams. Even if it's running back by committee, the Bucs must take advantage of the Browns' porous run defense. Cleveland will start QB Derek Anderson for the third consecutive game. He has a strong arm and quick release, but he's not very mobile. The Browns need to run the ball to ease the pressure on Anderson, but the offensive line is dinged up and Cleveland has too often abandoned the ground game early.

FAST FACTS: Bucs: WR Joey Galloway needs 95 receiving yards to join Keyshawn Johnson as franchise's only players with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. ... CB Ronde Barber needs one interception to break a tie with Donnie Abraham (31) for the franchise record. Browns: WR Joe Jurevicius has 18 receptions his past three games after totaling 18 through the first 11 games. ... Seek consecutive victories for the first time since Weeks 5-6 in 2003.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Bucs:

--RB Cadillac Williams has a foot injury and did not practice again Thursday. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

--TE Alex Smith suffered a sprained ankle in practice Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

--CB Alan Zemaitis, who has been inactive for 14 weeks, suffered a shoulder injury in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

--LB Jamie Winborn has a knee injury and has not practiced this week. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

--CB Juran Bolden has a quadriceps injury and did not practice again Thursday. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

Browns:

--CB Leigh Bodden has missed practice this week with a sprained ankle, and is very questionable for the Bucs game. Bodden's absence will be felt, as he is the team's best cover corner and without him the Browns will have inexperienced and struggling players covering Joey Galloway.

--WR Joe Jurevicius probably will play after taking a blow to the head in the loss to Baltimore. Jurevicius had a concussion, but did not miss practice all week.

--RB Reuben Droughns figures to get the bulk of the carries with Jason Wright on injured reserve. Droughns missed one day of practice to be with his ill father, but returned to the team on Thursday.

--QB Derek Anderson should have a good chance to succeed against Tampa Bay. The Bucs' pass rush is not that challenging, so Anderson should be able to see the field well. If he makes good decisions, he could have good numbers.

--MLB Andra Davis has missed practice all week and probably won't play due to a concussion. That means the Browns will have two backups inside -- Chaun Thompson and Leon Williams.


INSIDE THE CAMPS

Bucs:

Three months ago, Chris Simms could not stand straight, had lost 10 pounds and was weak after only a few minutes of activity, the result of surgery to remove his spleen.

But now he is able to twist, throw, run and workout without any discomfort. Simms said if he wasn't on Injured Reserve, he would have been able to play the final two weeks.

"I'm doing everything," he said. "I've been throwing the ball, running, lifting (weights). I feel really good. It's really been exactly what the doctors said. They said if I were to come back (this season), I could maybe play this week and definitely the last game of the season.

"If you were to ask me that two or three weeks ago, I would have said, 'There's no way.' But once I started getting better it was amazing how much the healing process (accelerated) day by day."

Simms will be ready to play when offseason workouts begin. The only question is where those workouts will be. Simms becomes a free agent at the end of the season and must decide whether to continue negotiating with the Bucs or test the market in the spring.

"I like being here. I like living here, I like the relationships I have with guys on the team," he said. "I really don't know. I hope I come back, but if I have to go somewhere else, there's still a business decision part of this where I have to take care of my family, and I only have a certain amount of years in the NFL. I'm going to have to do what's best for me at some point."

But Simms admitted that the ability to shop around is 'tempting because it's what you wait for as a player. But sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side. You have to be real about the situation."

Browns:

Quarterback Charlie Frye visited a specialist who determined he had a fractured bone in his hand, near his wrist.

The Browns continued to insist that Frye has a bone bruise. But Frye has been told he will need four weeks to recover, which means he probably will not play the rest of the season.

Derek Anderson already has been named the starter for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, but Frye has been listed as questionable even though he has not practiced all week.

"Charlie got a second opinion, but I haven't heard anything about a broken bone," coach Romeo Crennel said. "No doctor has told me that a bone is broken. We've said all along that he has a bone bruise, which is true."

Frye did not comment, but he has wanted to play and been frustrated at his inability to throw or even take a snap since he hurt his wrist.


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