BEREA - Anyone who watches the Browns has to smile at the play of Joshua Cribbs. The third-year player from Kent State makes plays, whether it's returning kickoffs, punts, receiving or even making tackles on the return teams.
However, Cribbs' play begs the question, ‘How can the Browns get him the ball more, maybe as the third down receiver out of the backfield?
"Coach (Rob Chudzinski) wants to get the ball in my hands," Cribbs said. "We just want to create opportunities for the offense."
Cribbs lined up at quarterback against the Raiders and took a direct snap from the shotgun position and ran for seven yards. Cribbs was a quarterback at Kent State. Cribbs is listed as a wide receiver but has just one reception for seven yards.
He said he's pleased with his involvement.
"It's coming along," he said. "(The coaches) are finding new innovative ways to get me the ball."
He knows he will get more chances, if he continues to make plays in whatever role the team has in store for him.
"Opportunities come out of nowhere," Cribbs said. "It's the coach's job to utilize the talent they have."
Cribbs' primary duty since making the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2005 has been as a kickoff return man. Cribbs has already moved into second place on the Browns' all-time list for kickoff return yards with 3,043. He needs just 142 yards to catch Dino Hall for the top spot. Cribbs has returned 119 kickoffs, while Hall had 151 returns.
In 2006, Cribbs set the franchise record for kickoff returns and return yardage with 61 for 1,494 yards. He returned a kickoff 90-yards for a score his rookie season against the Lions and then had his second career kickoff return for a score against the Steelers with a 92-yard return.
His 99-yard return for a touchdown against the Raiders was the third of his career and it tied him for the franchise lead. He is the first player in Browns' history to have a kickoff return for a touchdown in three consecutive seasons.
In 2007, Cribbs has 13 returns for 455 yards (35.0 avg.), including a touchdown. He has three punt returns for 33 yards (11.0 avg.), including a long of 22 yards.
The Browns signed Cribbs to a six-year contract extension last season.
You have to be special to enjoy special teams and Cribbs plays like he likes it.
"I'm into it as much as you can be," he said.
Cribbs is tied with Kris Griffin for the team lead in special teams tackles with five.
"I love returning the favor down there," Cribbs said. "The guys come at me 110 miles an hour and hit me and when I get to go 110 miles an hour and hit them, I like that."
Some feel if Cribbs continues to play like he has on special teams, he will be in Hawaii fro the Pro Bowl after the season.
Jamal vs. Ravens: RB Jamal Lewis goes up against the Ravens for the first time in his career. The Ravens are giving up just about 61 yards rushing a game.
"They have a very good run defense," Crennel said. "They're strong there."
"They are probably the top defense in the league for what they do," he said. "It's going to be a slugfest. We're going to have to stick our nose in there and make plays."
Crennel thinks Lewis will be motivated to show the Ravens they shouldn't have let him go.
"I think he'll be excited to show that they made a mistake by letting him go," Crennel said.
Ravens' coach Brian Billick knows what Lewis can do.
"He's a strong, powerful running back that can make plays," he said. "I know Jamal is a very competitive person that gets fired up for every game he plays."
McGinest Returns: LB Willie McGinest returned to the practice field for the first time since he had back surgery during the preseason. Crennel didn't rule him out for Sunday's game.
"It's the first time back since surgery and we'll see what his for availability for the game is."
DB Gary Baxter will also be out there today and will be evaluated.
"He's making improvement every week, but I don't know if he's still ready to play."
Crennel is looking forward to having both of the veterans back for games.
"It would help quite a bit because you have more ability and experience you could put on the field."
Field Goal Changes: Crennel hinted that as a result of the Phil Dawson block field goal, there might be some changes on the field goal unit.
Crennel wouldn't name names, but the primary problem seemed to be on the left side with Nate Dorsey and Seth McKinney.
"We might slot one or two guys around," he said. "That's a focus thing, but we might adjust that a little bit."
Injury Update: Crennel said that five players will be held out of practice on Wednesday: WR Tim Carter (knee), LB Antwan Peek (foot); DL Orpheus Roye (knee); TE Kellen Winslow (shoulder) and P Dave Zastudil (back).
Crennel said Winslow suffered a mild sublaxation of his shoulder and they will try to get him ready for Sunday.
Status Quo: Crennel made no announcements on personnel changes on the defense for Sunday's game.
"What's going to happen on defense is there is going to be more of a rotation," he said. "We want to keep people fresher and give an opportunity to some other guys. The thing we have to do is play better."
Crennel said most of the rotating will be on the defensive line. He also said the defense has to get back to the fundamentals.
"You have to go back to fundamentals and foundation to make sure you have that right before you can do anything," he said. "It's technique, attitude and the whole nine yards."