The catches are getting shorter. Kind of like Kellen Winslow Jr.’s answers.

The catches are getting shorter. Kind of like Kellen Winslow Jr.’s answers.

Question: How do you need to adjust your approach if the Buffalo game gets belted by snow?

Winslow: “Go play football, man.”

Through the Browns’ first seven games, Winslow averaged 17.2 yards a catch. During the last six games: 10.8.

Thirty minutes before Friday’s practice, Winslow waited out one bloated question:

“Your demeanor seems to be cool and unflappable. You’ve been through the pressure of a big college season. Is the pressure of getting in the NFL playoffs any different than the pressure of running for a national championship?”

His no-fat response: “Go play ball and try to get a win. That’s all it is.”

Opponents have adjusted to Winslow’s deeper routes. Coordinators don’t want him making big plays. They have no choice but to watch him catch lots of passes when he gets open on shorter stuff.

Winslow is taking it as it comes.

“My demands are always high,” he said before Friday’s nippy outdoor practice. “I always want to make plays, and ... I will.”

The catches are shorter, but there are more of them. He had 31 through the first seven games, 38 during the last six. There could be even more. Browns coaches are tweaking Derek Anderson to make sure he takes advantage of what defenses are giving.

“We’ve been working with Derek on touch,” Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski said, “being able to take a little bit off the ball and working on his ball placement.”

Trading haymakers for jabs is helping the team. The Browns were 4-3 in the stretch when he was making long catches. They’re 4-2 in his shorter-catch phase.

Now it’s crunch time. If the Browns beat Buffalo on Sunday and Tennessee loses at Kansas City, Cleveland clinches a playoff spot. This is no time for drive-stalling misfires to receivers who are open short.

“Derek is a work in progress,” Winslow said. “It’s really his first year.

“He’s getting better. He’s working hard every day. He’s taking notes. He’s doing everything he can with the chance he has right now.”

It’s a horse race as to which tight end will finish with the most receiving yards. Jason Witten (955), Tony Gonzalez (954), Winslow (943) and Antonio Gates (890) all have a shot.

Anderson outreach

Oregon-based Nike, prompted by Oregon-based Derek Anderson, donated $50,000 to flood victims in a region near the quarterback’s hometown, Scappoose. Downpours contributed to the destruction of homes and business in five Oregon counties.

Anderson said he “just wanted to see what I could do to help.” Some areas were hit by 9 inches of rain over several hours.

Scappoose is far enough outside the state’s biggest city, Portland, that Anderson doesn’t consider it a suburb. In terms of driving distance, he said, it’s like a trip from Cleveland to Akron.

The hardest-hit town was Veronica. Kids from Veronica schools have been attending classes in Scappoose after Scappoose students finish their school day.

Tasker at work

Steve Tasker, part of the CBS crew assigned to Sunday’s Buffalo-Cleveland telecast, spent Friday interviewing Browns.

Tasker was one of NFL history’s great special teams commandos, playing full blast for the 1990s Bills. Given that past, Tasker has special insight on what makes Browns return whiz Joshua Cribbs tick.

“When a guy runs that hard and has some success, the blockers have more incentive,” he said. “It hits home that they’re blocking for something, and you start seeing more blocks that make a difference.”

Extra points

- Tasker, who remains in tune with his old team, said the major issue is a long injured reserve list. Casualties include Ko Simpson, who had started at safety; rookie Paul Posluszny, who beat out A.J. Hawk for the 2005 Butkus Award; and Peerless Price, who had been the No. 2 wideout behind Lee Evans.

- Gary Collins will be a special guest of the Browns at Sunday’s game. Braylon Edwards and Collins are tied for the franchise single-season record for receiving touchdowns with 13. Collins, who played mostly in the 1960s, lives in Hershey, Pa.

- Rookie left tackle Joe Thomas sounded poised and polished during an interview on Jim Rome’s national radio show Friday. As Thomas hung up, Rome said, “That’s a cool customer, man.”

Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com