Considering the current state of the Browns' secondary, they should be thankful that it's only the Oakland Raiders they're facing this week. The coverage skills of Sean Jones and Brodney Pool have not been up to par over the first two games, yielding an unimpressive ten touchdown passes. The team allowed just twenty touchdown passes all of last season. After a head-to-head collision with Cincinnati Bengals receiver Glenn Holt last Sunday, Pool suffered a concussion. Pool was forced to sit out of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it's not looking good for him this weekend in terms of playing.
So, where would that leave the Browns? In a hole. The team's only other safety over the past two weeks has been Mike Adams, who is currently nursing wrist and shoulder problems. Adams has seen some limited work though, and is closer to playing than Pool is. If Adams does play, he would have to work with a cast on his wrist. Therefore, it's very possible that we could see someone like Daven Holly or Brandon McDonald fill in at the safety position this week, but there's another man I wouldn't mind getting a crack at it: Gary Baxter. Crennel stated that Baxter has been limited in practice and has yet to work with the regular team defense - he's only been working with the scout teams. Baxter's experience in the league could prevent any possible deterrents of making a mistake if he was inserted into the starting lineup. On the other hand, you never know if he is truly "healed" or physically ready to partake in that yet. I know that many of you would actually like to see this become a reality (Baxter starting over Pool), because more than half of you voted in Baxter's favor in one of the polls a week ago.
With that said, here are some more notes and nuggets from the week:
- Ward = Scum: If I remember correctly, Hines Ward stated "if I really wanted to hurt him, I could have," in regards to Daven Holly not accepting his apology. To me, that sounds like Ward clearly had intentions of giving him a cheap shot that just happened to "not be his best shot".
- One-Bar Wonder: The Browns signed veteran punter Scott Player several days ago, waiving Paul Ernster in the process. I'd feel much more comfortable with Player punting than I would Ernster. It seems doubtful that Dave Zastudil would play this week after experiencing more pain after the Bengals game. Zastudil was "less than 50%" before making his final punt of the game, meaning he truly gutted it out.
- Big Money: Although he's not a starter, the Browns will see defensive tackle Gerard Warren this week. The Raiders took a chance on him after the Broncos waived him a few weeks ago. Last week against the Broncos, Warren recorded a safety.
- Awards: Anderson was the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week for his effort against the Bengals. On top of that, Anderson and Jamal Lewis were named the FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Week, thanks to the constant voting by Browns fans at the Orange and Brown Report. Way to go guys, as both players should have their names mentioned again in the FedEx commercials at some point in Week 3.
- Deep Kickoffs: Although the Raiders have two of the most powerful kickers in the league, Joshua Cribbs had returns of 65- and 53-yards last season. Those returns helped the Browns rally from a 21-3 deficit at halftime, allowing the Browns to score 21 unanswered to come away victorious 24-21.
- Bentley Soon?: He's not revealing much, but center LeCharles Bentley may be activated after Week 6 based on the glee he's had around the locker room, according to reporter Andre Knott.
Later today, I hope to have a little reality check in terms of just how much of a concern our defense has quietly created.