Thearon W. Henderson
In today's edition of "The Sunday Five," we take a look at the weather conditions, some personnel decisions that need to be made, the tragedy in Kansas City, some praise for our right tackle, and more.
I wish I could talk about something other than the weather in this week's edition, but I feel obligated to mention it again. It originally sounded like the Browns and the Raiders could be playing in monsoon-like conditions. According to updated reports, it sounds like the game could end up catching the "end" of the storm when things are starting to taper off. From Pro Football Talk, via weather.com:
But there’s some good news, according to our friends at Weather.com. A wind advisory, with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, expires at noon local time, an hour before kickoff. The predicted wind speeds during the hours in which the game will be played are in the range of only 10 miles per hour. Rain is expected to continue during the game, but thunderstorms should subside in the morning hours. The area has been soaked with, in some locations, 10 inches of rain in recent days.
Any form of rain on that field can still make things a bit hectic, though. I had Phil Dawson in one of my fantasy leagues, and based on pregame reports, I may drop him in favor of a guy like Kai Forbath. I certainly have faith in Dawson, but if the footing isn't good -- especially near the filled-in-infield -- the Browns may punt or go for it on fourth down despite being in field goal range.
The Browns could end up making a decision this week on WR Jordan Norwood, a guy they placed on the injured reserve (designated to return list) back in mid-October. By rule, Norwood could start practicing six weeks later, and would be eligible to return to the active roster eight weeks later. I haven't heard any reports about him practicing, so we probably shouldn't count on him coming off the list before the Chiefs game. At this point, they might just end up leaving him there.
During the week, Cleveland worked out former Bengals and Eagles S Tom Nelson and former Texans S Troy Nolan, according to Adam Caplan. At first, I wondered if S Usama Young might end up going on injured reserve due to the concussion he suffered last week. Based on how much time he's missed lately, I suppose S Ray Ventrone also would've been a candidate for injured reserve. The Browns didn't end up making the move, so they're entering the Raiders game with just three active safeties: T.J. Ward, Tashaun Gipson, and Eric Hagg.
A last note on injured players: a few days ago, LB Chris Gocong tweeted, "Achilles rehab milestone today- jogged today. Next sprints, then stop & go, then THE WORLD!" Whether he's a starter or a reserve player in 2013, a healthy Gocong will only make Cleveland's defense stronger, especially down near the goal line.
I'm sure all of you have heard by now about the tragedy out of Kansas City in which LB Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, and then proceeded to commit suicide at the team facility in front of staffers, including general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel. For those who don't know about Belcher beforehand, he was a starter on the Chiefs' defense. What he did was inexcusable, but without question, it is still devastating news for all of the coaches, players, and many others associated with the Chiefs.
One of the topics of discussion is whether the game should still be played as scheduled, or whether it should be postponed. Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports makes his case as to why the game should not be played, saying that he is appalled that the league would allow it to proceed. If I had to give my opinion as an outside, I think the game should still be played. I certainly understand both perspectives, though.
I've been very impressed with the performance of right tackle Mitchell Schwartz this season, and offensive coordinator gave the rookie some high praise on Thursday by comparing him to All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas:
(On comparing the styles and strength of Mitchell Schwartz and Joe Thomas and what he has seen from Schwartz now as opposed to Thomas early in his career) – "I would say very, very, very similar. Aside from one plays in the left hand stance, one plays in the right hand stance, but very similar. I see those same attributes of being able to sit down against the rush. I think Joe was probably ahead of him in terms of the hand fighting and using his arms, using his length, but Mitchell is a very quick study and he rarely makes the same mistake twice. Whether it’s during the course of a game or whether it’s correcting him in practice. I think he’s the chief note taker for that group. I believe he’s the guy that everybody gets the cliff notes from when they go back. He’s the scribe if I’m not mistaken. He’s pretty good."
Last week, for the first time all season, I was a perfect 7-of-7 on my projected gameday inactives for the Browns. Something has to change this week, though, because of Usama Young being ruled out. Here are my projections: RB Brandon Jackson, FB Owen Marecic, OL Jarrod Shaw, DL Ronnie Cameron, CB Dimitri Patterson, S Usama Young, and S Ray Ventrone. The difference this week is that I have WR Josh Cooper being active again. The last time Cooper was active (two weeks ago against the Cowboys), it was because CB Joe Haden was inactive with an oblique injury. If Pat Shurmur follows a similar strategy in terms of personnel, Cooper will be on the active roster against Oakland.