A corner concern

After the best game of his career, Nnamdi Asomugha is on the trainers table. Also, Fabian Washington doesn't appear fit for next week's game.

Nnamdi Asomugha, who had the first two interceptions of his career, was hurting with a back injury following the game, spent some time with the trainers and didn't seem overly optimistic about his condition.

Fabian Washington missed a few plays, but his hamstring tightness mostly flew under the radar.

When the Raiders reconvened Monday, Asomugha wasn't a point of concern but coach Art Shell wasn't optimistic Washington would face the 49ers. "He's doubtful for this week," Shell said.

Washington, in his second year out of Nebraska, appeared primed for a breakout season. He started 10 games as a rookie, played well at the end of the season, and was outstanding during training camp and the pre-season.

Shell said he fully expected Washington to be a Pro Bowl cornerback, and no one doubted him.

That plan took a slight detour when Washington pulled a hamstring against Baltimore, but he managed to heal up enough during the bye week to face Cleveland.

The scenario now is much different. Washington, one of the fastest Raiders players, has an injury which could affect his speed -- his greatest asset.

"It's worse than Baltimore," Washington said. "I think it's something I'm going to have to deal with the rest of the season. Put some heat on it, other than that, lay through it. With the wrap, it wasn't really slowing me down, just a lot of it was pain."

Asomugha, who missed the Baltimore game with a foot sprain, injured his back while landing after his second interception of Charlie Frye.

Nickel back Tyrone Poole, who replaced Asomugha as a starter against Baltimore and broke up three passes, figures to start in place of Washington, although Shell also mentioned Duane Starks as a possibility.

On downs in which Poole went inside to play the slot receiver in the nickel defense, Stanford Routt plays on the outside as a cornerback.

Not so special:

The meltdown of Oakland's special teams may have been the most surprising aspect of blowing an 18-point lead to Cleveland. Two kickoff returns by Joshua Cribbs (65 and 53 yards) and a 58-yard punt return by Dennis Northcutt (58 yards) paved the way to 17 Cleveland points.

"Honestly, we had a good week of practice. They didn't come up with anything new," said linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba, a core special teams player. "I think we're have one of the best coverage teams in the NFL, if not the best. But they just kept gashing us today, and that was very surprising to me."

Special teams captain Jarrod Cooper promised it wouldn't happen again.

"We'll have to go back and watch the tape," Cooper said. "I know they were trapping in the middle of the field, me and Ike (Ekijuiba) and they were just bouncing off that. We'll figure it out. I can guarantee it will never be like that again."

The loss marked the first time since the start of the 2003 season the Raiders lost a game in which they scored a defensive touchdown.

The four previous games in which Oakland had scores on defense, they won the game. Three came on interception returns by Phillip Buchanon, with the most recent one being a fumble recovery in the end zone by Cooper last Oct. 30.

Feeling better:

Robert Gallery, out with a torn calf muscle against Baltimore, returned to action against Cleveland. Although he picked up a holding penalty and was beaten for a sack, Gallery also threw a key block on LaMont Jordan's 59-yard touchdown run.

After being beaten badly by Shawne Merriman in the season opener, it was an improvement. Gallery didn't want to feel sorry for himself about being 0-3.

"We have a lot of football to play yet," Gallery said. "We have a lot of football to play yet. I'm not going to shut it down and I don't think anybody else in here is. Obviously the outlook on us right now probably isn't good from people outside of what we do.

"But if you look at the things we've done and look at the stuff on film and you realize you're not that far away. Especially in this league. There's not a whole lot of difference between winning and losing."

Browns see a stepping stone:

"I think this win is huge for us," Frye said. "I think it's a game that can spark us."

Perhaps, but the fact that the Browns played the winless Raiders helped. Oakland did nothing offensively in the second half, gaining just 59 yards on four possessions.


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