Berea—It would seem logical that the Browns would be interested in seeing what some of the younger, unproven players on the roster would be able to do in the final three games. With a record of 4-9 and playing out the string, it would seem the thing to do.
However, it sounds as though Romeo Crennel will only play the likes of Beau Bell or Martin Rucker, from the line of scrimmage, if he has to. Bell and Rucker were the Browns' top two draft picks in the 2008 draft; Bell has only appeared in four games, while Rucker has only appeared in two games. Rucker has been inactive for 10 games, while Bell for seven. Both missed time with arthroscopic knee surgeries.
Crennel doesn't particularly sound as though he plans on playing some of the younger players in the final games.
"Part of the problem is getting them into the games when it counts," Crennel said.
Rucker was active for his first NFL game against the Colts and he caught a pass for nine yards. Last week, against the Titans, he only appeared on special teams giving way to Darnell Dinkins as the backup to Steve Heiden, while Kellen Winslow was injured.
"He's been at practice and picking things up," Crennel said of Rucker. "He's embraced the opportunities and he's good at catching passes and getting open. There are things that he needs to work on. Right now, he is third with Winslow out. If something happens to the other guys, he will be out there."
Winslow sees some good things in Rucker.
"He has a lot of potential," Winslow said. "He still has a long way to go but he's going to get there and be a good player.
"He's ahead of the curve in the passing game."
Bell also had knee surgery in training camp, but returned and has been slowed by an injury to the other knee. He has only been active for four games and has not played other than special teams.
Bell made a key play in the fourth quarter of the game with the Jaguars when he forced a fumble on a kickoff return and Joshua Cribbs recovered it at the Jaguars' 25. He was inactive for the next three games before playing on special teams the last two games.
Another rookie, Alex Hall was able to play more because of injuries to Antwan Peek and Willie McGinest throughout the season. He played in 13 games with two starts. Hall had three sacks in the first five games and has had none since. He has 23 tackles, four quarterback pressures and a forced fumble.
Crennel was asked about Hall's seemingly lack of production in the second half of the season as he had 18 of his 23 tackles and all of his sacks in the first half of the season.
"Sometimes, what happens with young players in this league is they hit a wall," Crennel said. "That's happening to some degree with Alex and some of the other young players."
D'Qwell's Year: LB D'Qwell Jackson is currently the leading tackler in the NFL with 156 tackles. He has two sacks, three tackles for loss, four passes broken up and three interceptions, including two last week.
"I don't know that he's much different," Crennel said. "He's able to run to the football and not deal with as many linemen that allows him to run to the ball."
Injury Update: Crennel said that several players will not practice on Wednesday, including RB Jerome Harrison (ribs), DL Louis Leonard (toe), DL Shaun Smith (calf), DL Corey Williams (shoulder), TE Kellen Winslow (ankle). Several other players will practice in a limited capacity, including WR/KR Josh Cribbs (back), LB Shante Orr (knee), FB Charles Ali (ribs), LB Beau Bell (knee) and DL Shaun Rogers (shoulder).
Crennel said that he decided to give the players off on Tuesday and Wednesday to allow their bodies to rest up.
"They had two days off as their bodies are banged up a bit," he said. "The guys are beat up pretty good. At this point in the season, I thought they needed rest."
K2 Hoping: Crennel said the Browns have talked about placing TE Kellen Winslow on injured reserve, but Winslow is holding out hope that he could play before the season is over.
"It's tough to watch my teammates," Winslow said. "I want to be out there, but I want to be healthy enough to play."
Crennel said the original prognosis was three to six weeks and that allows a possibility he could return.
" The range of the injury is three to six weeks and he wants to play if he can."
Winslow admitted it has been a tough year.
"It's been a tough year," he said. "Things haven't gone my way."
Winslow has been suspended—which was rescinded—but still has been inactive for three games thus far this season, including the ankle injury. Winslow did say that his injured knee is doing well.
Winslow also said that he hopes to get on the field with his former Miami (Fla.) teammate Ken Dorsey.
"Kellen's a great player," Dorsey said. "We have a comfort level."
Patrick Signed: The Browns signed RB Allen Patrick to the active roster from the practice squad. Patrick (6-1, 200) is a rookie from Oklahoma. To make room for Patrick, the Browns placed TE Jed Collins on the practice squad.
Berea Report: No 'Utes' For RAC
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