BEREA - Is William Green the featured back the Browns have been looking under rocks to find since 1999?
Green has a lot to prove, and not every opponent will be the Cincinnati Bengals. But Green took a few positive steps with a 96-yard rushing performance last week against the Bengals.
"I think his confidence has been growing a little in the last couple of weeks," Browns coach Butch Davis said of Green. "Every single game in the preceding three or four, he'd have two or three runs that would be 6- or 7-yard runs, then a couple that would be 1- or 2-yard runs.
"Maybe he wasn't getting enough opportunities. All those things may have contributed to it (a lack of confidence)."
Green took advantage of an opportunity that opened when Jamel White separated a shoulder Nov. 3 against Pittsburgh. White received the bulk of playing time when it was obvious that Green wasn't up to the challenge earlier this season.
"William had better reads (against Cincinnati)," Davis said. "I think everything was dramatically better. Our receivers and offensive line blocked better. I think our running backs, including James Jackson, ran better. They had a clear understanding of where they wanted to go with the ball."
Jackson led the offense last season with 564 yards on 195 carries. With White out of action, Jackson came off the bench to give Green a few rests, finishing with 27 yards on seven carries.
Jackson was the center of controversy last week when he reacted angrily to comments Davis made about his decision to remain in the Miami (Fla.) area during he offseason to work out. Jackson, in an interview with a reporter for radio station WTAM, referred to Davis as a fool for suggesting that not working out with the team hurt his cause.
The two discussed their differences last Saturday. Davis said all is fine between the two, but he held firm to his opinion about offseason conditioning.
"From a psychological standpoint, it's tough being away from the people you love for six months," Davis said. "Does that mean you have to (work out with the team)? Absolutely not. (But) it's my personal opinion that it benefits people when they do that. Who knows better the shortcomings of any football player than the strength coaches that work with you for 11 and a half months?"
KNOCK DOWNS: Davis singled out the blocking of receiver Quincy Morgan, who caught five passes for 81 yards.
"A lion's share of the credit for how we ran the ball has to go to the tight ends and the offensive line," Davis said. "Another area that shouldn't go unnoticed is the performance of the receivers. Quincy Morgan had 10 blocks, five of which was when he cut a guy and knocked him off his feet. It was without question the best performance by a wide receiver in two years." < p>
BIG PLAYS: The Browns' play on third downs was pivotal. They had a 61 percent efficiency rate, allowing them to have a 36:22-23:38 advantage in time of possession.
"The first quarter might have been the finest quarter we've had," Davis said. "We did just about everything you'd like to do."
GAME BALLS: Tackle Orpheus Roye, middle linebacker Earl Holmes and cornerback Daylon McCutcheon were given balls on defense. Offensive picks were the line, Green, Morgan, receiver Dennis Northcutt, who had seven receptions for 71 yards, and quarterback Tim Couch, who was 22 of 35 or 242 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
OUCH!: Davis wasn't happy with the play of the special teams. Brandon Bennett's 82-yard kick return helped give the Bengals a 30-yard average on kick returns.
"It was the worst performance we've had this year," Davis said.