BEREA - It's no question the Browns made a concerted effort to stop the run this year. So, how are they doing?
Romeo Crennel thinks the Browns are playing better against the run.
"I think to a degree it has happened," he said. "We have seen the impact that Shaun (Rogers) can have on an offense. The inside linebackers have been able to take advantage of what he can do.
"With that said, the run defense isn't one person and the other players have to perform."
Statistically, the run defense is 22nd in the NFL, giving up 126 yards per game. It is better than what is has been anytime in the previous three years—but that's not saying much.
The best the Browns finished in the NFL in the last three years is 27th.
"The numbers are what they are," Crennel said. "But I do think the run defense has improved from a year ago."
In 2007, the Browns ranked 27th overall in the NFL in stopping the run. The defense as a unit was 30th. This year, the defense so far is ranked 15th.
For the Browns to be successful, they are going to have to stop the Giants on Monday Night. The trio of RB Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw form one of the best running backs corps in the NFL, averaging close to six yards a carry between them.
Jacobs is the workhorse of the Giants. At 6-4, 264 pounds, he's quite a load. Jacobs has 380 yards through four games, including three touchdowns. He's averaging 5.8 yards a tote, while Bradshaw and Ward are at 6.6. Jacobs had 136 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Seahawks.
"Really, Jacobs is like an offensive lineman with speed," Crennel said. "When you give him the ball get him started, it's hard for one guy to bring him down. He runs over arm tacklers and through one-man tackles.
"Ideally, you need a couple of guys to stop him because when he goes downhill, he's got momentum and he's hard to stop."
Corey Williams was with the Packers last year when Green Bay held Jacobs to just 67 yards in the NFL Championship Game. He said the plan was to be very aggressive early.
"You have to come out and hit him in the mouth early," Williams said. "That way he gets tentative later on. We need to do that Monday night."
Shaun Smith said the Browns have to hit Jacobs early and often.
"No running back likes to get hit, so we have to tackle him and keep coming at him."
Smith said he's had to tackle backs similar to Jacobs before.
"He's a big back," he said. "I'm used to tackling Jerome Bettis. We have to hang on to (Jacobs) because he'll break the tackle if you don't."
The Browns could be in trouble if they put all their efforts into stopping Jacobs because of the other backs in the Giants' stable.
"By using the other guys that keeps (Jacobs) fresh," he said. "They are vying for playing time and that keeps them pushing one another."
Crennel knows this will be a big, big test.
"This is probably the best team in the NFL right now and we're going to have to play very well."
Injury Status: Crennel said OL Kevin Shaffer, DL Shaun Smith and TE Kellen Winslow will not practice on Thursday. He said DB Sean Jones will do ‘running on the side'. Shaffer did some things Wednesday, but will be held out Thursday.
Crennel said Winslow will see a doctor Thursday to see what he has and see if it can be cleared up.
Crennel said he doesn't know if Winslow will practice, but thinks he can still play.
"Not until the doctors look at him and see what it is," Crennel said. "He's a valuable piece to the puzzle and we'll try to catch him up and see if he can play."
With Shaffer's status up in the air, Crennel was asked if he's ready to commit to Tucker as starter against the Giants at right tackle.
"Not yet, we'll see."
Political Future for Brady and Joe: Browns QB Brady Quinn and OL Joe Thomas were on the podium in Strongsville on Wednesday with Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin in a campaign stop. Quinn spoke to the crowd and called McCain a ‘true American hero' during his talk. Thomas did not speak, but stood along side McCain and Palin.
Crennel said he spoke to the team about politics prior to Quinn and Thomas' appearance at the rally.
"I talked to the whole team (Wednesday) after practice that their politics were their own, but not to let it affect the team."