Taylor: Circling the Browns

Taylor brings it: More on those Bill Cowher rumors that simply won't go away. Skinny on a players-only meeting. Scoopage on the head coach's REAL status. Grab a seven-day free trial of the Orange and Brown Report, and see what you've been missing...

-- "It's a complete and utter fabrication, falsehood, lie, whatever you want to call it." That's the quote from a source inside Octagon Football, the agency which represents Bill Cowher, regarding a rampant rumor that the former Steelers head coach had recently purchased a home in Strongsville. The agency has no idea how the rumor started, but wanted it known that there was no truth behind it. Of course, the intimation behind the rumor is that there was some backroom deal already cut between Cowher and the Browns to become the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns, leading Cowher to delve into the soft Cleveland-area real estate market. "That's probably more ridiculous than the house rumor," the source said.

-- As to the players-only meeting earlier this week, we've been told that Jamal Lewis did his fair share of the talking that transpired during the invitation-only meet-and-greet. While we are not privy to the specifics of what was said by anyone involved, we have been told the end result was a very positive development for the entire roster and the players left the meeting "energized and revitalized". "It was a much needed kick in the teeth after the way the season started," one source said.

-- Even though there is some disagreement within the organization as to the tack they should take – especially at the quarterback position – the whole of Berea is focused completely on turning this season around beginning Sunday in Cincinnati. Whether the ship-righting happens this week or not remains to be seen; if it doesn't transpire the way the club foresees – hopes? – it will not be because the eyes of the organization are focused on other periphery issues. And, according to a source, that's a very big part of the reason why head coach Romeo Crennel came out earlier today with the announcement regarding the starter at quarterback, so that his players – and the organization as a whole – could focus on this game and this game only.

-- To reiterate what Lane Adkins reported earlier, the move to hold defensive tackle Shaun Rogers out of practice today was strictly precautionary in nature. Rogers, who injured his shoulder during the loss to the Ravens last Sunday, has been the club's most consistent and dominant player on the defensive side of the ball and the coaching staff is simply erring on the side of extreme caution. If there's one player this team can ill afford to lose, on either side of the ball, it might just be Rogers.  And, if it means holding the DT out for the remainder of this week of practice to ensure his being on the field Sunday, that's what this staff is prepared to do.

-- Some leftover residue from Crennel's decision to stick with Derek Anderson at the QB position, courtesy of a Browns source: "People agreed it was (Crennel's) decision to make, but they didn't necessarily agree with the decision he ended up making." Can I get a translation, please? "He'd better be right."

-- Upper management, however, believes that this season is still salvageable. They are of the belief that, while the playoffs may be a pipedream given the disastrous start to the season, there are still positives to be mined in the remaining thirteen games. And possibly even that pipedream of a spot in the playoffs. "With the schedule the (AFC) North teams have, we are not out of this. Look at the injuries Pittsburgh is going through now, and Baltimore with the rookie quarterback, and Cincinnati having their own struggles. It may not look good right now (with the 0-3 record), but things aren't out of hand yet."

-- One thing needs to remain perfectly clear amidst the relatively warm and fuzzy notes above, though: firing Crennel before the end of the regular season has not been taken off the owner's table. Regardless of whatever spin may or may not come out of Berea. Should the season continue to fall further into the abyss, Randy Lerner will not hesitate to pull the trigger. There no longer exists a buffer between the owner and head coach as said buffers have quietly stepped back.

-- The Browns are cautiously optimistic rookie Martin Rucker will resume practicing the week following the Cincinnati game and be available for the Monday Night tilt versus the New York Giants after the bye. The tight end underwent arthroscopic surgery in the middle of last month to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. Rucker is slightly behind schedule in his rehabilitation as both the rookie and the club had soft-targeted last week as his return to the practice field.

-- Speaking of injuries, an encouraging note out of Berea these days is the fact that, even privately, the injury excuse is not being tossed about with the frequency of years past. Yes, it's mentioned as a contributing factor, but it's not the overriding theme as it's been for… oh… the last ten years or so. They've seemingly tossed away that injury crutch and are dealing with the injury hand they've been dealt.  And are prepared to go with what they have.

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