Berea Report: It Starts with the O-Line

Fred Greetham reports from Monday's practice in Berea, where Ryan Tucker will soon return, perhaps adding even more depth to an offensive line that has turned into a team strength. Here's the latest...

BEREA - It wasn't too long ago the Browns offensive starting line was made up of guys like Enoch Demar, Joaquin Gonzalez and Kelvin Garmon.

That was just three years ago.

Arguably, today's version of the line is night and day better than what the Browns have had at any time since the Browns returned in 1999.

And they have depth.

Ryan Tucker is eligible to be reinstated to the team after serving a four game suspension for a banned substance and is expected to be added to the roster. LeCharles Bentley could be activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list in two weeks.

"Our line gets deeper with Tucker back," Hank Fraley said. "He also brings leadership to the team."

Think of the possibilities. Tucker was arguably the Browns best lineman in 2005 and Bentley was the prize of free agency in 2006 after being a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Saints. Thomas should be a future Pro Bowl player. Eric Steinbach was a Pro Bowl alternate with the Bengals, as was Fraley while with the Eagles. Seth McKinney has been solid at right guard and Kevin Shaffer has done a nice job after switching to right tackle.

The Browns have averaged 34 points a game over the last three weeks and are still averaging over 27 points a game, overall.

"We've been playing pretty smart out there," Fraley said. "Coach (Steve) Marshall has been giving us the right reads and coaching us well."

Since Derek Anderson took over for Charlie Frye, there have been just two sacks. One was against the Steelers and one against the Raiders was credited when Gerard Warren knocked the ball out of Anderson's hand and it went for a 24-yard loss in the first quarter.

"It brings us tremendous pride to give up no sacks, especially with the way Derek is playing," Thomas said after Sunday's win over the Ravens. "He's really understanding the game plan, knowing the reads and getting rid of the ball when he needs to."

After allowing six sacks in the season opening loss to the Steelers, the Browns have allowed only one sack in the last three games.  

"The offensive line has been giving (Anderson) time," Crennel said .  "So now there's a comfort level and he's making plays because he has time."


Tucker Status:  The Browns have until next Monday to make a roster decision on OL Ryan Tucker, who has missed the first four games serving a league suspension for banned substance.

"His suspension ends this week and we have a one week grace period to see where he is," Crennel said.

The Browns don't have to activate him for this week's game with the Patriots.

"It's exciting to be back in the building," Tucker said. "I'm ready to go. Whether it is in a leadership role or whatever. The offensive line is playing well and the offense is clicking." 

Good Start: Crennel said he's pleased the Browns finished the first quarter of the season with a 2-2 record.

"A lot of people didn't think we'd be 2-2 in September, and 2-1 in the division," Crennel said. "What happened in September is over and now we have to get ready to move on."

Besides winning two games in the division, the Browns have won two in a row at home.

"Hopefully, we're building a home field advantage."

Willie's Back: LB Willie McGinest started on the right side against the Ravens. He was credited with just one assist, but Crennel said his presence was felt.

"His leadership and experience on the field helps the defense function," Crennel said.

Injury Update: Crennel didn't mention any injuries coming out of the Ravens' game. OL Eric Steinbach suffered a stinger in the first half but returned to finish the game.

Game Balls: Crennel said CB Leigh Bodden was awarded a game ball for his eight tackles and one interception. TE Kellen Winslow caught four passes for 96 yards and RB Jamal Lewis rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown. TE Darnell Dinkins caused a fumble on a kickoff return and recovered the fumble to set up a Browns touchdown.  

Shannon's Streak: K Phil Dawson's wife, Shannon, sang the national anthem before the Browns/Ravens game. According to Phil, the Browns are 8-1 when she sings the anthem. She has sang the anthem once each season since 1999.

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