Goodbye Mr. Smith

With injuries plaguing the defensive backfield, the Browns today let go of once-heralded acquisition DT Mark Smith. That's just one of the ramifications of Sunday's victory over the Texans. Mike McLain brings you the latest from Berea!

BEREA - With injuries decimating the secondary, the Browns waived defensive tackle Mark Smith to open a roster spot for a defensive back.

Strong safety Robert Griffith is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his right shoulder. Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon is questionable with a sprained left elbow, and cornerback Corey Fuller re-aggravated a tendon injury near his right knee.

Davis' concern for the situation in the secondary is obvious.

"Special teams are the quickest way to lose games," Davis said. "The secondary is the most dramatic. People don't realize that if the defensive tackle screws up and runs in the wrong gap, instead of it being a 3-yard run, it's a 9-yard run.

"If a defensive back makes a wrong step and goes the wrong way, usually a guy in a black-and-white striped shirt is doings this," Davis added as he gave a touchdown signal. "Defensive backs are held to a strict level because they can play 60 plays and make two mistakes, and those two mistakes can get you beat. As was the case Sunday, some guys had five and six tackles, two passes defensed, excellent coverage, and all of a sudden they get victimized on one play and now everybody wants to throw them under the bus."

The decision to cut Smith was based on the development of other players that can help on the interior of the line. Courtney Brown and Kenard Lang are occasionally moved inside from their end spots to strengthen play against the run. In addition, backup tackle Alvin McKinley has played better behind starters Orpheus Roye and Gerard Warren.

"The move (to waive Smith) was predicated on opening a spot to sign a defensive back," Davis said. "Looking at the roster, unfortunately, Mark was the candidate."

PLENTY OF PRAISE: Davis spoke highly of the play of special teams against Houston.

At the top of the list was Andre Davis' 95-yard kick return for a touchdown that gave the Browns a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. The coverage teams were outstanding, limiting Houston to an average of 3.5 yards on four punt returns and an average of 14.1 yards on seven kick returns.

In addition, Steve Heiden stripped the ball from Jermaine Lewis on a first-quarter punt. Kevin Bentley recovered for the Browns at the Texans' 13 to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by William Green.

"There were some things we would have liked to have done better on special teams, but for the most part it was about as well as you could ask a unit to play," Davis said. "When you face a guy like Jermaine Lewis, and he averages 14 yards on kick returns and averages 3 yards on punt returns, you've had a heck of a day. He can do to you what Andre Davis did to them."

DOING OKAY: Butch Davis gave quarterback Tim Couch a decent grade for his showing against the Texans. Couch completed 21 of 31 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. Twice he overthrew an open receiver on sideline routes that might have resulted in touchdowns.

"I thought he was pretty good, but he missed some," Davis said. "He missed Jamel White on a wheel route out of the backfield that could have been a big gain. There were one or two plays I'm sure he would have loved to have had back. But on the whole when you don't turn the ball over and your team wins, it's a pretty good day."

GAME BALLS: Honors on offense went to Gardocki, Davis and Heiden. Defensive honors went to lineman Mark Word,defensive back Michael Jameson, linebacker Brant Boyer and end Tyrone Rogers. On offense balls were given to Morgan and tackle Ross Verba.

INJURY REPORT: Davis doesn't think that the injury suffered by Corey Fuller is serious. Fuller re-aggravated an injury to a tendon behind his left knee. He missed the previous two games after suffering the initial injury against Pittsburgh.


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