Berea—To have a rivalry, many think you have to have two teams who are competitive with one another.
For the Browns and Steelers there hasn’t been much of a rivalry in the recent past. The Steelers have won the last seven games over the Browns dating back to Oct. 5, 2003 when the Browns defeated the Steelers, 33-13 at Pittsburgh when Tim Couch was at quarterback. They have lost 12 out of the last 13 times the teams have met, including a playoff loss to the Steelers after the 2002 season.
On the brighter side, the Browns still hold a 55-53 edge over the Steelers in the all-time series.
"It’s an important game for the city," Joe Jurevicius said. "We both have a clean slate, starting the season 0-0."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin enters the rivalry with a fresh start.
"The close proximities of the city and the tradition of the two franchises drive the rivalry," Tomlin said. "I look forward to learning more about the rivalry as time goes on."
Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown said this is a great opportunity for the Browns.
"I think we’re fortunate to have the first game with a rival like Pittsburgh," Brown said. "We’ve got the Steelers at home. We’ve had time to prepare. It’s the ideal situation. It’s exciting."
"It’s the home opener against Pittsburgh," Jurevicius said. "I don’t think there’s a better team to open against at home."
Quarterback Charlie Frye thinks the start of the season will be important.
"It’s exciting to open with a division rival," Frye said. "I think there’s more sense of urgency.
"It’s the beginning of the season with three of our first four games against teams in our division," he said. "It will play a big part in how we end up this season."
Braylon Edwards thinks the Browns match up well with the Steelers.
"We know if we play hard and do what we can do, we have a chance to beat them," Edwards said. "They’ve always been a good defensive team. Nothing has changed."
Tomlin vs. Romeo: Steeler’s rookie head coach Mike Tomlin served as an intern under Romeo Crennel with the Browns in 2000 and Crennel said he saw some things in the University of Cincinnati defensive backs coach at the time.
"He was the defensive intern and I was the defensive coordinator," Crennel said. "He was a sharp, young man and he was very thorough. You saw then he was a good, young coach. He would evaluate an opponent and see what he comes back with. He did a good job."
"Romeo did a good job of helping me to gather an appetite to coach in the NFL," Tomlin said. "He took time to interact with me and help me out as an intern. I thought he went above and beyond the call of duty and it’s helped me deal with interns."
Lewis Ready: RB Jamal Lewis is well acquainted with the Steelers after playing against them twice a year with the Ravens.
"Nothing looks new to me," Lewis said. "They have a lot of the same players. I’m looking forward to playing them. They play physical the way I like to play."
Lewis says he’s up for the challenge of carrying the ball 25-30 times.
"Their main goal is to stop the run, so I know they’ll be out to do that."
Captain, Captain: Crennel announced that the team voted on captains for the 2007 season. They are: WR Joe Jurevicius, OL Hank Fraley, LB Andra Davis, K Phil Dawson and LB Willlie McGinest. Co-captains are S Sean Jones and TE Steve Heiden.
"These guys are good leaders for our team," Crennel said. "They will be the leaders and the spokesmen for our team."
Jurevicius said he hopes to be good role model of the Browns.
"I want to lead by example," he said. "I want us as a team to make sure when we’re on the field we are putting out a product that we can all be proud of.
"I want us to represent the Cleveland Browns on the field proudly."
Zastudil Update: There were reports that P Dave Zastudil injured his back during Monday’s practice and would miss Sunday’s opener with the Steelers. Crennel said that might be a little premature.
"Dave has a sore back," he said. "I had about five guys in to look at and to develop a short list. We worked them out and sent them home. Dave is in the building and getting ready to play Sunday."
Because Zastudil is such an important part of the team, his injury could be a major factor if it lingers.
"Anytime you hurt a back it can be troublesome or linger down the road," Crennel said. "I’ve looked at some guys and if that becomes an issue, we’ll address that."
Crennel said Phil Dawson is the backup punter.
Other Injuries: Crennel said DL Orpheus Roye (knee), OL Eric Steinbach (knee) and LB Andra Davis (ankle)practiced on Monday and did well. OL Kevin Shaffer (concussion) did not practice, nor did FB Lawrence Vickers (hamstring). Crennel said he expects Vickers to practice today and Shaffer will be evaluated.
Roye said he thought he’d be ready.
"I feel pretty good," he said. "I’m working toward it. My gut feeling is that I’ll play. I want to be on the field for the home opener."