This Sunday's game in the New Orleans Superdome will be the first time in over two years that the Browns have been forced to play on artificial turf. In addition to its perception as a wrecker of knees, artificial turf also creates a faster track and alters the game of football. As Steve Doerschuck points out in the Canton Repository this morning, the Saints (like the Rams and Colts) have taken advantage of the surface in the design of their offense and can be very dangerous at home.
Limiting the possible damage that the Saints offense could do to the Browns is the potential absence of speedy running back Deuce McAllister, who has been hobbled by a sprained ankle. As Doerschuck points out, McAllister's history is to be bottled up much of the game, and then break off a huge run. Oddly, that is similar to the recent play of the Browns defense, which generally can control running games but be victimized by big plays.
As reported yesterday on Bernie's Insiders, offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley is also unlikely to play for the Saints, as is defensive tackle Norman Hand, who has been benched by Saints head coach Jim Haslett. Despite the absense of these players, the Browns will have their hands full in front of some empty seats in New Orleans contending with the Saints, led by the inspired play of low-round 1999 draft choice Aaron Brooks. Brooks, by the way, refuses to discuss any potential rivalry with the top draft pick that year, Tim Couch.
Also in the news on a wet and dreary Friday morning in Cleveland: Anthony Henry has stuggled to regain the 10-interception form of his rookie year, and has even become a target for opposing offenses. Also in the newswire this morning are more stories on subjects that were discussed earlier in the week on Bernie's Insiders: Aaron's Sheas injury and its impact on special teams, and the the long recuperation of defensive spark plug and 2001 Pro Bowler Jamir Miller.
The clock ticks down, and anticipation builds, as the Browns head to a crucial game in New Orleans.
Other than inexplicable gaps on Saturday afternoon, particularly from around Noon to 3:30 PM, we will cover the breaking news over the weekend as the Browns team, hundreds of Browns Backers, and everyone associated with Bernie's Insiders other than Art "Hello from Cleveland" Bietz descends on the Big Easy.
Not that I mind. Much.