Berea Report: Back to Defcon 2

You can almost feel the disappointment coming from the press corps as Browns head coach Eric Mangini calms down the "fake injury" waters. Plus, inactives explained, "milling around" defined. Steve brings the story.

Fakegate is now history.

Browns head coach Eric Mangini said as much on Wednesday in regards to his complaints, mostly on Monday, that the Detroit Lions faked injuries to disrupt Clevelland's use of the no-huddle offense in last Sunday's 38-37 loss at Ford Field. His friend, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who looked stunned when Mangini barely acknowledged him following the game as they met a midfield to shake hands, said Mangini's comments were out of line.

The two men, who worked together on Bill Belichick's Browns staffs in 1994 and '95, finally talked.

"Yeah, we cleared the air," Mangini said before practice as the Browns began to get ready for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. "I like Jim. He and I have a good relationship. Jim and I are OK."

Actually, Schwartz is more OK than Mangini is. Schwartz's team won the game. His team is 2-8 and now a game better than the 1-9 Browns.

And, despite the record, Schwartz seems to be getting pretty good reviews in his first year as he tries to rebuild the Lions, while Mangini, according to some, is already on shaky ground in his first season as he tries to resurrect the Browns.

"It wasn't like I was trying to shy away from the coaches and the players being accountable for the way we played," Mangini added. "At the end of the day, we have to be accountable. We were frustrated that we lost the game like we did (on an untimed play at the end of the game), and I was expressing that more than I should have.

"The bottom line is that we had plenty of opportunities to win the game, and we didn't take advantage of them."

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A KIND WORD: Coaching is a strong fraternity in the NFL, and when one member of the group is in trouble, the others tend to come to his rescue. As such, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis threw Mangini a bone during his conference call with the Cleveland media on Wednesday. "I think he's doing a fine job of keeping the team together amidst all the controversy that seems to be around," Lewis said. Now, why is all that controversy there in the first place?

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NOT EXACTLY LIKE WHEN JOE NAMATH DID IT: Bengals right defensive end Jonathan Fanene has guaranteed a win over the Browns. When asked if they knew who Fanene is, two longtime Browns veterans, defensive end Robaire Smith and running back Jamal Lewis, said they did not. It's like the old adage, "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to see it, does it make a sound?"

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A CLARIFICATION: Everyone keeps referring to the Browns' new offensive scheme as a no-huddle, but that's not true, according to Lewis. "The Browns are just milling around at the line of scrimmage," he said. In reality, the offense has done a lot of milling around this year.

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AN INDICTMENT: The Browns made inactive against the Lions two second-round draft choices, wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who has all of one catch for 23 yards this year, and linebacker David Veikune. Mangini was asked if he's disappointed that two players at the top end of his draft class still aren't good enough to dress at this point of the season. "I don't look at it that way," the coach said. "We're just looking to bring guys to the game who give us the best chance to win." Ouch. Maybe Mangini's not disappointed, but Robiskie and Veikune have to be after hearing that.

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EFFUSIVE IN HIS PRAISE: Mangini is definitely not disappointed in the play of the 32-year-old Smith, a 10th-year pro who has made a great comeback after missing almost all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. "He's had a great season," the coach said. "He's smart and tough. He's as tough as anyone I've been around. You say to young players, ‘You want to play eight, 10, 12 years in this league? Then watch him. Watch his approach.' "

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EFFUSIVE IN HIS PRAISE II: Mangini likes the progress made by running back Chris Jennings, a CFL refugee. "Chris has come a long, long way from when we first got him," he said.

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SO-SO IN HIS PRAISE: Browns running back Jerome Harrison has not been happy with his situation for a while, and became even more unhappy when he was made inactive. "I anticipate Jerome having a good week of practice," Mangini said. "I could see all three backs (also Lewis and Jennings) being up this Sunday." He added that he "had a good conversation with Jerome last week." 

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NO COMPARISON: The Browns are ranked 30th in the 32-team NFL in points scored, averaging 11.5 per game. The Bengals are 16th (21.5). … The Browns are 31st in total yards (236.8), and the Bengals are 17th (335.6). … The Browns are 22nd in rushing yards (101.4), and the Bengals are ninth (127.8). … The Browns are 31st in passing yards (135.4), and the Bengals are 20th (207.8). … The Browns are 28th in points allowed (26.3), and the Bengals are third (16.7). … The Browns are 32nd in yards allowed (402.0), and the Bengals are 10th (310.5). … The Browns are 29th in rushing defense (154.9), and the Bengals are second (84.3). … The Browns are 26th against the pass (247.1), and the Bengals are 19th (226.2). … The Browns are last in turnover ratio (minus-11), and the Bengals are tied for 10th (plus-2). With all that, then, is there any wonder why the Bengals have been installed as a solid two-touchdown favorite on Sunday?

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THAT'S A WRAP: To protect his sore elbow, center/guard Hank Fraley trotted out to practice wearing tremendously oversized pads on his arm. With that, he looked like the late Gene Upshaw when the Pro Football Hall of Fame guard played with the Oakland Raiders.


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