Lee Flowers Stirs the Pot

"Leave it to Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Lee Flowers to stir the waters of controversy", Mike McLain writes. Yes, the Steelers safety was at his trash-talking best on Thursday, offering up his takes on the Browns QB situation. Mike McLain brings you the news first, along with a slew of additional notes from Berea.

BEREA - Leave it to Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Lee Flowers to stir the waters of controversy.

During a conference call Thursday, Flowers suggested that the Browns' offense might be in better hands with Kelly Holcomb at quarterback. Holcomb will start Sunday's wild-card playoff game at Heinz Field in place of Tim Couch, who is out with a fractured fibula.

"He really goes through his reads a lot better than Tim does," Flowers said. "Sometimes Tim tends to panic and throw balls that he shouldn't. Holcomb is going to be very patient and go through his progressions and make the correct reads without turning the ball over."

Most of the Browns shook off Flowers' comments. Flowers is considered Pittsburgh's top trash talker. If controversy confronts him, he runs straight at it.

"Kelly is an aggressive quarterback," Browns receiver Kevin Johnson said. "He's going to throw it, and that's the bottom line. The key thing I like about Kelly is that he's either going to throw 10 picks (interceptions), or he's going to throw 10 touchdowns. That's the killer's mentality.

"I don't know what Lee is thinking about Couch. That's not true. Kelly is a guy who, when he makes up his mind, he goes with it."

After studying film of the Browns, Flowers noticed how well the offense reacts when Holcomb is on the field, in his opinion.

"Any time Holcomb can step in and the team feels as comfortable as they are with Tim, then that's going to increase their chances of winning," Flowers said. "This game is all about confidence. If they play with a lot of confidence for Holcomb, they're going to be successful."

NOT ME: Unlike some of the ex-Miami Hurricanes on the Browns' roster, coach Butch Davis has avoided making bold predictions of a Miami rout over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Defensive end Kenard Lang and safety Earl Little haven't missed an opportunity to gloat about a possible Miami win. Both played for the Hurricanes, and both are convinced that Ohio State has no chance of pulling off an upset - the Buckeyes are almost a two-touchdown underdog.

Davis coached the Hurricanes from 1995-2000. Davis recruited most of the players on the Miami roster before he accepted the Browns' post in January of 2001.

"I think it's going to be a heck of a game," Davis said. "The two best teams in the country are playing in it. That's what the BCS tries to do. The little bit I've had an opportunity to watch Ohio State this year, they play outstanding defense."

"Maurice Clarett is a guy who literally could take a game over. He runs the football extraordinarily well."

LET'S TALK: Davis asked some of the 15 players with playoff experience to speak to the team.

"I compared this team to the 1999 Rams team when we were basically underdogs," said offensive tackle Ryan Tucker, who played on St. Louis' Super Bowl championship team of that season. "We took it game for game, and before we knew it we won the Super Bowl. I see the same thing here. After you win it, it turns a team of no superstars into 22 superstars overnight."

HONOR ROLL: Middle linebacker Earl Holmes was selected the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Running back William Green was voted by fans via NFL.com as the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.

Holmes led the Browns with 11 tackles, including eight solos, and he broke up one pass. Holmes was in on three tackles on a goal-line stand to help preserve the win. He stopped Warrick Dunn for no gain on a run from the 1 on fourth down. Green rushed for a career-high 178 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. His second touchdown covered 64 yards with 3:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.

THREE'S A CHARM: According to NFL statistics, since 1970 a team that has swept another team in two regular-season games has met that team in the playoffs 14 times. In those 14 playoff games, the team that swept the regular-season series won the third game nine times.

INJURY UPDATE: Steelers inside linebacker Kendrell Bell (ankle) and cornerback Chad Scott (hand) missed practice Thursday. It appears unlikely that Bell, who has an ankle injury, will play. If Scott doesn't practice today, he'll probably also sit out the game.

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