Browns general manager Phil Savage had a press conference Saturday with the media, answering questions that will affect our regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Here is a recap of the topics touched on, including player injuries and personnel decisions:
PLAYER INJURY UPDATES - SAVAGE PRESSER
"The expectation is that D.A. will be back and ready to go." (Pressed to say if that means "ready to go" against Dallas) "I feel he'll be ready to play this weekend."I was surprised to be in the minority of fans who didn't find it peculiar that Brady Quinn only played two series in the preseason opener. Every little bit of edge that you can squeeze out of your opponent is worth taking, and I believe that Romeo Crennel's unwillingness to verbally commit to Anderson as being "good-to-go" this week plays a part in that. Force the Cowboys' defense to spend a little bit of time to Quinn than they usually would spend towards Anderson, if possible.
Savage said Cribbs is "up in the air to a degree" with his high ankle sprain. "We'll just have to wait and see."With Cribbs, it sounds like it's going to be a different story. It is not worth Cribbs re-aggravating his injury to keep him out for another month or two -- it'd be better to give him that extra week or two of rehab. Syndric Steptoe and Gerard Lawson are candidates to replace him on return duties, but I don't expect Lawson to be active on gameday. If Cribbs is out, Steptoe should return kicks, and if something happens to him, Jerome Harrison (kicks) and Brandon McDonald (punts) would take over.
"The expectation is he will be back at some point during the year."We can only hope -- his third-down abilities will be very useful if we're in playoff contention halfway through the season.
Rex Hadnot & Ryan Tucker:
"(Hadnot) is probably going to be down at least a short time. (Bennett) fought hard and played pretty decently at right guard in the preseason."I'm a little discouraged to hear that Tucker won't be ready for the opener. Although Rex Hadnot was the starting guard coming in, I'm a little happier at this point to see Seth McKinney getting the projected start over him. McKinney will be our opening day starter for the second year in a row.
"(Tucker) is a little bit up in the air. Is it two weeks? Is it six weeks?"
"The expectation is (Rucker) will probably be back on the field in the next three or four weeks. I wanted to keep him alive for the year."Not a surprise here; in fact, it sounds like a week or two earlier than I recall. Savage also praised Darnell Dinkins for having a great camp and taking advantage of the extra reps. Still, you have to wonder if he'll stick around once Rucker returns.
"Beau should be back on a limited basis in the next week or so. We felt like we might need him on the back half of the schedule."That's what I figured all along: if Bell is going to contribute this year, it'll be much later in the season. That's why I projected him to go on the IR in my final roster projection.
"I think there's a chance, maybe, I don't know. We'll know more as the week develops."We'll have to see how things unfold for Pool. If he's not ready, Mike Adams would get the start in his place, leaving only Nick Sorensen as a backup safety. Sean Jones is expected to start against Dallas.
"Anytime you have a concussion situation and you're a defensive player, that's a concern," said Savage. "That's kind of where we'll leave it with Brodney Pool."
GENERAL PLAYER / TEAM COMMENTS - SAVAGE PRESSER
Paul Hubbard & Travis Wilson:
"Paul has some future in terms of his ability from a size, speed standpoint," Savage said. "Is he there yet? No, but he's got the kind of talent we want to hang onto right now."I still believe there would've been a greater benefit to keep Travis Wilson or Steve Sanders with the club this season, but Savage didn't want to lose Hubbard to free agency. As he states too, the third receiver role won't automatically play a critical role in our offense.
"Our No. 3 receiver last year had eight catches," Savage said. "That works out to a half catch a game."
New Offensive Lineman: Savage didn't rule out the possibility that an offensive lineman might be brought in over the next day or two. That could quickly spell the end to Nate Bennett's final roster spot.
Returning Players: Not mentioned in the injury section above, the following players are also expected to return against Dallas: RB Jamal Lewis, LB Willie McGinest, and LB Antwan Peek.
Hall Over Orr: Savage indicated that it was the impressive play of rookie LB Alex Hall that put veteran LB Shantee Orr on the bubble.
- Jerome Harrison: It appears as though the youngster finally did enough to warrant a step in the right direction if Jamal Lewis goes down.
"Jamal should be good to go in the next day or so. ... If Jamal were gone for an extended period of time, you would basically see Jerome take over the first- and second-down type plays, and Jason would probably stay in the role he has now, which is a third-down back and a special teams guy."Bottom line: if Lewis gets hurt, Harrison will be the "starting running back". Either way though, Jason Wright will be the third-down back still.
"When Jamal is healthy, it takes 15 to 20 carries to really get to a point where you maximize what he can do. When that happens, it is difficult to get a second or alternate runner a lot of touches. Jason is a third-down back and special teams guy. If something were to happen to Jamal, it would be kind of a committee-type thing with (Wright and Harrison)."
This week it's all about getting amped up and ready for not only the 2008-2009 Cleveland Browns season, but the home-opener against the Dallas Cowboys. I'll have features with our Cowboys affiliate over at Blogging the Boys, my annual official season preview, and much more to fulfill your reading pleasure.