BEREA - There were some eyebrows raised when the Browns signed Jamal Lewis in the off-season. Many wondered if he had any gas left in the tank when the Ravens opted to let him go as a free agent.
However, Phil Savage felt he could be a piece of the puzzle in fixing the Browns woeful offense. Lewis said during mini-camp that the Browns told him he'd get 25 to 30 carries a game. That seems to be the direction they're heading as Lewis had seven carries in the first quarter of the second preseason game and then had 15 carries in a little over a half against Denver.
Lewis, who just turned 28 on Sunday, said he's up for the challenge.
"I feel good," Lewis said. "I got 15 carries against Denver. It's been a long time since I had 15 carries in the first half.
"Everything has worked out well so far," he said. "I haven't had 30 carries in a game in a long time. I welcome that."
Lewis signed just a one-year contract with the Browns and he seems hungry to have a productive year. Lewis has rushed for 7,801 yards in his first seven seasons with the Ravens, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. However, the last two seasons he has averaged just 3.5 yards a carry. Lewis has rushed for over 1,000 yards five times, including 2.066 in 2003.
"That's why they brought me in here," Lewis said. "We've worked hard to improve the offense. The offense has moved the ball and we were able to get into the end zone against Denver."
He thinks he's ready to be the focal point of the offense.
"I just need to get some work to be ready for Pittsburgh," he said. "I'm just trying to get in condition and be ready to roll. I'm tired of the preseason."
"I think the offense is playing well as a whole," he said. "Since the OTAs I think we've being getting better every day as we put in more of the offense."
The Browns are hoping that by controlling the line of scrimmage with the revamped offensive line and Lewis, they can take pressure off of the defense, as well as the quarterback.
Still Mum on QB: Romeo Crennel still refuses to name a starting quarterback for the regular season opener against the Steelers. He did say that Charlie Frye would start against the Bears.
"I don't know what it is with you guys and the quarterback," he said. "Charlie will start against Chicago and then DA (Derek Anderson) will come in. I'll tell you before the Pittsburgh game when I know. Right now, it's week to week."
Crennel did offer a little insight to the possibility of Frye starting the season opener.
"Charlie has been the starter for 18 games and he's up for the challenge."
Injury Update: Crennel said the following players won't play in the preseason finale against Chicago: LB Andra Davis, OL Eric Steinbach, DB Gary Baxter, DL Orpheus Roye, FB Lawrence Vickers, S Justin Hamilton, OL Kevin Shaffer, LB Mason Unck and LB Willie McGinest. OL Fred Matua is doubtful. Baxter, Roye, Davis and Steinbach were on the field doing some running on the sideline. Crennel is hopeful they'll all be ready for the season opener. One of the biggest decisions is on Baxter, whether to keep him on the active roster or place him on injured reserve.
"We're all pulling for him," Crennel said. "We have another week before we have to make a decision, so we'll see what he can do this week and go from there."
Shaffer suffered a concussion against the Broncos and Crennel said he will be evaluated by the doctors later today.
"It all depends on the severity of the concussion," he said. "They will give him a baseline test and see where's he at."
See Ya: The Browns made 11 roster moves to get down to the limit of 75 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. They released: K Jess Ainsworth, DB Therrian Fontenot, DE Orien Harris, WR Mike Mason, WR Kendrick Mosley and TE Buck Ortega. They waived-injured: WR Efrem Hill, FB J.R. Niklos and DB Justin Sandy. Listed as "Non-Football Injury-NFL Europa" were P Kyle Basler and DL Alvin Smith. The Browns have to make one more move by Tuesday at 4 p.m.