Bye Week Missions

The Browns need to get a few key contributors healthy, and make sure that DA can play away. (Note how your clever webmaster did a little rhyme there at the end of that last sentence. I should be paid more.)

The two most important missions for the Browns during their bye is getting players with nagging injuries healthy again and getting quarterback Derek Anderson to play on the road the same way he plays at home.

As for the injuries, coach Romeo Crennel believes starting running back Jamal Lewis will be over his foot injury by the time the season resumes Oct. 28 in St. Louis. Wide receiver Joe Jurevicius played against the Dolphins with a sore knee; the rest will help him. The time off will help Kellen Winslow Jr.'s partially dislocated left shoulder heal.

Anderson is coming off a sensational game against the Dolphins. He threw three touchdown passes to Braylon Edwards and also ran for one. His passer rating was 142.5.

Anderson is ranked 17th among NFL passers. He is ahead of the Bengals' Carson Palmer (19th), the Packers' Brett Favre (22nd), the Chargers' Philip Rivers (24th) and the Ravens' Steve McNair (30th). He has completed 101 of 184 passes for 1,496 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His passer rating is 88.9.

Anderson already has thrown more touchdowns in 2007 than Charlie Frye threw in 13 starts last year. Frye finished 2006 ranked 26th while completing 252 of 392 passes for 2,454 yards with 10 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. His passer rating was 72.2.

One might think Crennel would stamp Anderson the starter until an injury forces a switch to rookie Brady Quinn, but Crennel is not ready to go that far. One reason is Anderson is 3-0 as a starter at home, but he is 0-2 on the road. Anderson threw five of his eight interceptions in the only two road games the Browns have played. Six of their final 10 are on the road, starting with the game in St. Louis.

"Five weeks ago we traded Charlie (to Seattle) and named Derek the starter," Crennel said. "As the thing went along, there was the good Derek and the bad Derek. Now he's maturing.

"It's not final. It's still week to week. He still has to improve, but he's shown some improvement. He's put points on the board. It's played out in a positive light so far."

One of Anderson's biggest supporters is tight end Steve Heiden. Heiden did not catch a pass against Miami. He has only five receptions all season and except for a play that went for 27 yards against the Bengals his longest reception was for seven yards.

If any player in the locker room is an expert on judging quarterbacks it is Heiden, now in his seventh season with the Browns. He has been around for Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Frye and now Anderson. That does not include Quinn, the quarterback in waiting.

"Derek wasn't as much of an unknown inside this locker room as he was outside it," Heiden said. "He's going to continue to get better. That's the exciting thing. He's making throws into tight coverage some big-time guys make. He's been playing great. We have 10 more games and we have to keep doing that. There's a huge confidence issue with knowing we can win games when we need to score."

The Browns have scored 20 touchdowns -- only five fewer than they scored all of 2006. More importantly, the Browns need one more victory to equal their total from 2006.

PERSONNEL NOTES

--With seven touchdown catches, WR Braylon Edwards already has one more than he did last season.

--P Dave Zastudil would be happy if the Browns did have a game this week. He said he was 'embarrassed' last week when his only punts went 37 and 32 yards. Zastudil missed three weeks with a back injury. He said he might have been rusty, but he did not use his injury as an excuse.

--It is the bye week, but that does not mean the Browns have a long vacation. They are free starting Thursday afternoon and must be back to the training complex by Monday morning.

--Rookie CB Eric Wright was eager to get home to California because he did not like the weather in Cleveland. At the time the temperature was around 60 degrees and the sun was shining. He is in for a surprise in December.

BY THE NUMBERS:
167 -- The number of points the Browns have scored in 2007, which is six more than they scored all of 2000.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It still is a long season and I don't want them to think 3-3 is all that good because really, .500 doesn't usually get you anywhere in this league. It doesn't make the playoffs or anything like that." -- Browns head coach Romeo Crennel.

QUIET DEADLINE: The trading deadline came and went quietly for the Browns, but there might be changes in store within the current roster.

Coach Romeo Crennel is contemplating flipping the duties of free safety Brodney Pool and strong safety Sean Jones. Jones gave up two touchdown passes to Patriots tight end Ben Watson and two more to Dolphins tight end David Martin. Down the road, the Browns will have to concern themselves with tight ends Heath Miller from the Steelers and Todd Heap from the Ravens.

"That's something we'll have to look at during the bye week and decide how we need to handle that," Crennel said. "If we need to swap them, we'll swap them. If there are other things we can do to affect those matchups, then we'll do that."


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