Cleveland's Injured Miller Challenges Couch

Linebacker Jamir Miller, voted overwhelmingly a team captain last December, is challenging quarterback Tim Couch to be a more vocal team leader. Miller is out for the season with a torn right Achilles tendon and says Couch has to fill the void for the Browns to make the playoffs. Couch is out indefinitely with an injured right elbow.

"He has to become a little more vocal with the guys," Miller said in his first locker room appearance since tearing his right Achilles tendon Aug. 10. "He has to assert himself a little more because I'm not here.

"Teams go as far as their leaders take them. He has to come over to the defensive side of the ball and talk to guys here as well as on the offensive side of the ball. You have to have your defense to want to play for you."

Miller's remarks hit Couch like a blindside sack. He is determined to play Sunday against the Bengals, despite doctors telling him to hold off at least one more week to allow his elbow to heal. Couch last played Aug. 26 against the Packers.

"I lead by example," Couch said. "I play hard. I stay here in the offseason (Miller doesn't), I work out with the guys. I'm always here in this facility.

"My thing is I have a lot to worry about being a quarterback and running my show instead of worrying about what the defense is doing and trying to bring guys together. I'm pulling for those guys and always talking to them, but I can't go out of my way to get involved in getting those guys fired up."

Miller said he was not ripping Couch, just offering constructive criticism. Couch did not take it that way. He seemed angry and hurt at the same time. Couch said he wouldn't be in position to challenge the defense until the offense proves its worth. Last year the Browns offense ranked last in the NFL.

"I'm not attempting to bash Tim at all," Miller said. "I'm not questioning his leadership. After eight years, I know exactly what it takes to get guys to want to follow. They have to feel like they can talk to you. You have to make yourself available. That's my definition of being a leader. The 53rd man to the No. 2 man has to feel like they can come and talk to you. It has to be that way.

"This is Tim's fourth year. I feel it's time for him to grab the reins. I'm on I.R. I can't do anything. I can't affect the outcome of any game. If you look at the guys under five years, it has to be at least three quarters of the team. With that being said, somebody has to emerge. Someone has to say, 'We're going to win and we're going to do whatever it takes.'"

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