"I talked with coach Davis, and he said a lot of good stuff," said Shea. "The ankle injury is the kind of thing that won't affect me five or six weeks from now. Hopefully they keep me in their plans for the future. I think they will."
Shea finished his third season with a career-low seven receptions for 49 yards and no touchdowns. When the year is over, he will have missed 14 of 48 games due to injuries to his shoulder, ankle and thigh.
Steve Heiden played the dual H-back-tight end role with Shea out Sunday in Cincinnati. Heiden injured his ankle during the game and is listed as questionable for this week's game in New Orleans. That means R.J. Bowers, who was signed from the practice squad Tuesday, could get a chance at fullback against the Saints.
"R.J. has been working very hard," said Shea. "I'm happy for him that he is getting a chance. I think he will do a good job."
CATCHING A BREAK? ... Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks refused to comment during a Wednesday teleconference when asked if he thought running back Deuce McAllister would play Sunday against the Browns. McAllister is officially listed as questionable for Sunday with a an ankle injury that forced him to leave last week's game with the Falcons in the fourth quarter.
PREDICTIONS ... Much of the talk this week in the tight-ends area of the locker room has to do with this week's Ohio State-Michigan matchup. Shea and Mark Campbell are Michigan grads and rookie Darnell Sanders is an Ohio State alumnus.
They are still working out the final bet.
"Darnell wants the loser to shave his head, but I think I'd look horrible bald," said Shea. "He can pull that off. I think we should have to dye our hair. If Ohio State wins, Mark and I have to dye our head scarlet. If Michigan wins, Darnell has to dye his hair blue ... I think I can pull off the red-hair look. Darnell in blue hair, though. We are trying to turn him into Dennis Rodman."
The predictions for Saturday:
Shea picks Michigan, 27-20.
Sanders picks Ohio State, 21-10.
Couch is a Kentucky grad, but the local excitement surrounding this week's game even forced him to take sides.
"I guess I'm going to have to go with Michigan because Shea will probably want to fight me if I don't," said Couch.
When reminded that Shea is on crutches with a sprained ankle that has his foot swollen to almost twice its normal size, Couch reconsidered.
"That's right," Couch said. "I could probably take him now. Just kick him in that big foot."
DOME PREP ... Sunday is the Browns' first and only regular-season game in a dome stadium this season. In fact, it is their first dome game since their last trip to New Orleans Oct. 31, 1999. That game in the Superdome was their second consecutive dome game, having played in St. Louis Rams the week before.
"We are definitely going to have to get on the same page as far as the fact that we probably are going to have to use a log of silent counts and hand signals," said Couch. "The noise is going to be a big part of this game, and I'm sure we will have the speakers going in practice today to get used to the noise."
With the large number of false-start penalties against the Browns this season, the noise is even more of a concern. According to Couch, the false starts are in part due to the fact that he often uses a hard count.
"We go on three and four a lot," said Couch. "Sometimes that backfires. We've also had a lot of teams jumping off sides. It goes hand-in-hand. There are times when it's going to work for us, and there are times when it backfires. I think it is something we still can clean up and those are things we've got to do to keep from beating ourselves."