Browns notes from Sept. 17. -- With Browns Report.
The Browns could get a needed boost from Gary Baxter at Oakland.
Lost in the euphoria of Sunday’s shootout win over the Bengals was a second straight week of shaky defense.
Baxter thinks he can help a secondary that surrendered 401 passing yards and six touchdowns to Carson Palmer.
He said Monday he remains on course to come back from double patellar tendon surgery. Asked if he will play at Oakland, Baxter said, “It’s 50-50.”
The secondary is depleted, and Baxter could help because he can play cornerback or safety.
Starting free safety Brodney Pool sat out most of the Cincinnati game after spearing a receiver that caused a concussion. No. 3 cornerback Daven Holly missed the game with a concussion suffered in the Pittsburgh game.
Rookie Round 2 pick Eric Wright is getting picked on. He led the team in solo tackles Sunday with seven, which usually isn’t a good sign for a corner -- and definitely isn’t in a 51-45 game.
“We tried several things that didn’t work,” Head Coach Romeo Crennel said. “We have to rush better and cover better.”
The Browns have just two quarterback sacks in two games. They got to Palmer just once in 51 drop-backs Sunday.
“It’s difficult to get to him ... he gets rid of the ball so fast,” said Kamerion Wimbley, who led the Browns with 11.5 sacks last year. “They had the tight end and the running backs chipping. In the second half, it was like maximum protection.”
Bengals receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh totaled 19 catches for 278 yards. Unknown Glenn Holt, who caught one pass in 2006, had five Sunday, one a 22-yard touchdown.
“We struggled a little bit defensively,” Crennel said. “They have a high-powered offense.”
The Browns could have better luck dealing with Oakland’s quarterback, 28-year-old Josh McCown. The former Round 3 pick was 10-12 as a Cardinals starter and is 0-2 with the Raiders.
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cleveland Browns Stadium has been as buzzed in the fourth quarter as it was Sunday, but not for a while.
Atmospheres that echoed the 51-45 shootout:
- Sept. 17, 2000. “This is the way it’s supposed to be,’’ owner Al Lerner said after Courtney Brown sacked Pittsburgh’s Kent Graham on the game’s final play to preserve a 23-20 win.
- Oct. 21, 2001. The Browns improved to 4-2 by beating defending Super Bowl champ Baltimore, 24-14.
- Dec. 29, 2002. A late goal-line stand saved a 24-16 win over Atlanta and sent the Browns to the playoffs. “The fans really helped,” Crennel said. “We’ll do our best to give them more to cheer for.”
“Joshua Cribbs continues to be somewhat amazing,” Crennel said of his return specialist.
Cribbs is averaging 31.2 yards on nine kickoff returns. The Browns are looking for ways to counteract teams that squib kick to avoid Cribbs.
On one Cincinnati squib, up man Darnell Dinkins picked the bouncing ball out of the air.
“The first thing I did was turn around to see if I could get it to Cribbs,” Dinkins said.
It remains to be seen how Cribbs will fare as a punt returner. He has fielded only three punts through two games.
Dave Zastudil still is hurting. The veteran punter moved gingerly through the locker room Sunday, holding the abdominal wrap intended to help his aching back.
The Browns still have two punters on the roster, having signed Paul Ernster for the Pittsburgh game.
Crennel says Zastudil will be monitored as the week goes along. Ernster, who punted at Oakland when he was with the Broncos last year, will get a full week of practice.
Fantasy league owners haven’t gotten much out of Phil Dawson over the years because the Browns have made too few trips to the end zone and field-goal position.
He had one of his most prolific games as a Brown on Sunday, with 15 points. He was 3-of-3 on field goals.
More reflections of how 51-45 games tend to go down in history:
- The 51 points are tied for the fourth-most in franchise history.
- The Browns have gained more than the 554 yards they piled on Cincinnati just twice since 1946.
- The Browns hadn’t scored as many as 27 points in a first half since Dec. 1, 1991, late in Bill Belichick’s first season.