Bye Week Isn't Enough Time for White

Jamel White wants to play Sunday, but probably hasn't seen the official injury report which lists him as "Out" for the Bengals game. The injured have been recuperating, and there's a shakeup in the secondary, according to David Carducci reporting from Berea. The first independent report on today's events in Berea hits the web!

BEREA - The buy week was supposed to be an opportunity for the Browns to get healthy.

The plan didn't work for Jamel White.

On Wednesday, White said he wants to play Sunday in Cincinnati despite a separated shoulder. Apparently he had not seen the NFL Injury Report which officially lists White as out for Sunday.

That means the NFL's worst running game will be without its best rusher this weekend. It also means rookie William Green will return to the starting lineup.

While White appeared to be unaware of status, Tim Couch said the team was preparing to play without their top back.

"It's going to be tough ... but I see a lot of improvement in William Green," said Couch. "He seems to be running the ball better and with more confidence."

Couch said Green's most obvious improvement in practice has been seen on third downs and in picking up the blitz with slide protection.

"I think he is going to be a very good runner," said Couch. "I think it's just a matter of time before he finally breaks out ... He needs one exceptional run to get going."

Couch said he expects James Jackson to see more action against the Bengals.

ALSO OUT ... Aaron Shea is officially listed as doubtful with a sprained ankle, but the starting H-back/tight end admitted today that there is little chance of his seeing the field.

Shea, who sprained the ankle during practice on Monday, used crutches to get around the Browns' locker room. His ankle was severely swollen to almost twice its size and the heel was black and blue.

According to Shea, it is his first ankle sprain since his high-school basketball days.

"I have the worst luck," said Shea, who missed the first two games of this year and the last four games of 2001 with a shoulder injury.

D-LINE HURTING ... The Browns could be without two key defensive linemen Sunday. Defensive end Kenard Lang, who suffered a groin injury against the Steelers, is listed as doubtful. The team's most consistent sub, defensive tackle Alvin McKinley, is also listed as doubtful with a thumb injury.

FULLER, GRIFFITH RETURNING? ... The bye week did help Corey Fuller and Robert Griffith. Fuller will practice today to test his injured hamstring today in practice. He said he is hopeful of playing Sunday.

Griffith is a bit more sure of his status. The strong safety said his shoulder has shown significant improvement in the last week and his playing is just a matter of the formality of being cleared by team doctors.

"The CAT scan said the bone is all healed up and I should get the final O.K. today," said Griffith. "I'll probably have to wear something on the shoulder to protect it ... I'm not worried a bit. Once I get the final clearance, I'm full go ... I won't hold anything back."

SHAKE UP IN SECONDARY ... Earl Little has replaced Devin Bush as the Browns' starting free safety.

Little has been extremely effective starting in place of Griffith during the last two weeks. The highlight came Oct. 27 against the Jets when he intercepted a pass and forced a key fumble inside the Cleveland 10-yard line in the first half. The turnovers helped keep the Browns close enough to make their second-half comeback possible.

Little's play has encouraged a change in his demeanor. During training camp, Little often seamed dejected, possibly because the free-agent signing of Griffith was a signal of his losing his starting job.

"He's obviously feeling a lot better now, and he should," said Fuller. "He's making a lot of plays."

Bush said he still expects to see significant playing time in the rotation with Griffith and Little.

BENTLEY FITTED FOR CAST ... After breaking his hand in the Browns 23-20 loss to the Steelers, rookie linebacker Kevin Bentley guaranteed he would be ready to play after the bye week.

He's been forced to back off from that statement. Bentley had surgery during the bye week, placing pins inside his hand to help support the bone.

"Right now I'm not sure if I will play," said Bentley. "My status hasn't been addressed ... In the last couple of days, I feel like I've made a lot of progress."

Bentley is currently wearing a splint today, but he will soon be fitted with a cast that could allow him to play as early as Sunday.

"It could be worse," said Bentley. "It could have been my right hand ... Right now I could make a hit if my life was on the line. This is my life, so I guess I'd be able to hit somebody ... the cast should protect my hand.

"The injury is frustrating because I was just really starting to get my feet wet. I was coming on and starting to play really well. I can't be down about it, though. There are a lot of people out there in worse position in terms of injury than I am."

The injury report lists Bentley as questionable.

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