Cloudy, With a Possibility of Lang

The Browns defensive line situation remains somewhat in turmoil, as the team contemplates a possible early return for Kenard Lang. If they don't get it, the team could be trying a number of different combinations to compensate on Sunday. Also, news on William Green, Earl Little's shift to free safety, and a couple of young linebackers.

The Browns are giving Kenard Lang the "benefit of the doubt" in the hopes that maybe he could play Sunday. The reality of the situation, however, is that it is very unlikely that Lang's injured groin will be healthy enough to allow him to see action against the Bengals.

"It's a real stretch. He's made a lot of strides," said Butch Davis. "I think he possibly could play Sunday ... I think the worst thing you could possibly do for a guy like Kenard is force him out there and then have him re-injure it in the second quarter, and then we are back to square one on Monday. He has had two good weeks (of healing), and it's very close. I don't know that it is close enough." With Lang out, the Browns will use a seven-man rotation on the defensive line.

"I feel much better that (former Giant defensive lineman) Cedric Scott has picked up things to where we feel comfortable that if he goes into the game he can function and do well," said Davis. "We've practiced rotating the defensive linemen around. We have seven guys and they are virtually interchangeable."

Davis said that while they hope not to be forced into the situation, Orpheus Roye could see some action at end and Courtney Brown could play some defensive tackle. Brown has lined up at defensive tackle on a few occasions this year and Roye played end the last two seasons before permanently switching to right defensive tackle. In a pinch, Gerard Warren could even play some defensive end just as he did last season.

Dwayne Rudd has filled in as a pass-rushing end in nickel situations this season, and he could be called on for that duty, giving some linemen a chance to rest, against the Bengals.


MORE WORK, MORE PRODUCTION ... Butch Davis still thinks William Green will be a very good NFL running back, and he could start showing it in the next seven games. According to Davis, Green might just be the type of back who needs a certain amount of carries to be effective.

"He probably needs 15-to-25 touches in a ballgame," said Davis. "It's hard to get anybody any carries when you are behind 17 points and you are trying to play catchup to beat Tennessee and the guys we've been behind."

Green has also spent much of the year playing behind or splitting time with Jamel White. For at least the next few weeks, Green will get the chance to be the true No. 1 back while White recovers from a separated shoulder.

"He's going to get a good dose of football during the second half of the season," said Davis.

Green's teammates are convinced he will benefit from the extended opportunity.

"All William has ever known is big plays," said Kevin Johnson. "At Boston College, he average 110-to-170 yards a game, and he always made big plays. Whet he is learning is this league is not like that. You are not going to consistently break the big play. You have to be patient. He is learning that sometimes in this league 3-yards is a good play. You keep getting 3-yards, and then all of a sudden you break one.

"What he needs to do is pop one big one, and then it becomes contagious. Right now he has a perfect opportunity to keep plugging away, then break that big one and get his confidence going."

Davis hopes Green is similar to some other pretty good running backs who did not enjoy a great deal of success early in their rookie seasons, but later flourished.

"It's not a whole heck of a lot different than Deuce McAllister a year ago where he had like 91 carries for an insignificant amount of yards in his rookie year," said Davis. "Somebody also told me about Mike Pruitt, who was a first-round draft choice here. He came in and it took him a while. Then all of a sudden he became an extraordinarily significant contributor to the success of the teams he played on."


TAYLOR YES, BENTLEY NO ... It looks like Kevin Bentley's broken left hand will be keep him out of Sunday's game. Bentley had hoped to try to play with his hand protected by a cast.

Davis said the Browns will be fortunate to have Ben Taylor back from an ongoing hamstring problem. According to Davis, despite missing most of the year to the hamstring injury, Taylor still has a chance to have an impact as a rookie, mostly on special teams.

"Midway through the season it's not a lost season yet, but I'm sure it's been frustrating for (Taylor) and for us," said Davis. "We had plans for him to be a significant contributor on special teams and play some in some substitution groups and he's been off-and-on injured ... Hopefully he will be healthy the next seven games and we'll get a pretty good idea of how he can contribute."


STRONG-TO-FREE, NO PROBLEM ... Earl Little played well at strong safety, replacing the injured Robert Griffith during the last two games. With Griffith returning, Little will move to free safety, and Davis said he is confident Little will be just as effective.

"I would say 75-percent of our coverages with (free safety and strong safety) are pretty much identical, particularly when we are playing zone coverages," said Davis. "All they have to do is move one guy and you go from being a free to a strong safety. He's been doing that all year long, so it is no big deal."


The OBR Top Stories