Here are some news, notes and nuggets as the Browns get set to take on the Bears on November 1st, 2009:
- This will be the battle of the best kick returners, with Joshua Cribbs on one side and Devin Hester on the other side. Hester doesn't touch the ball on kickoffs anymore though after absorbing the duties of being the Bears' top wide receiver. Cribbs tried to make a similar adjustment to the receiver position, but his output (10 catches for 38 yards) has been far less impressive. Based on Cribbs' style, it makes sense why he's been more productive in the Wildcat formation on run plays.
- Just which player is better at returning kicks? Quite honestly, I think it's unfair to compare the players' contrasting styles. Between the two, personally, I couldn't trade Cribbs for Hester.
- The Bears do have a suitable replacement this season at returning kickoffs. Rookie Johnny Knox, who has also emerged as a decent wide receiver, is averaging 29.0 yards a pop in 18 attempts. Cribbs is averaging 28.9 yards a pop in 25 attempts, but also returns punts.
- Almost all of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota will see the Browns vs. Bears game on CBS at 1:00 PM EST, according to the TV Distribution Maps. If you hated the announcing crew from the Steelers game two weeks ago (Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots), then I suggest you mute your television screen in advance this week.
- People in the Cleveland area will also get to see the 49ers take on the Indianapolis Colts at 1:00 PM on FOX. I love watching Peyton Manning quarterback, and I rarely get to see him in non-prime time games, so I'm sure I'll be flipping channels throughout our game. Pretty much the whole country will get to see Brett Favre return to Lambeau to face the Vikings at 4:00 PM on FOX. That game is begging for a ratings grabber, and I can't wait to see it.
- Kicker Phil Dawson looks ready to return as the Browns' field goal kicker this week. The team didn't release Billy Cundiff though, and there's a chance he might be active as well to continue handling kickoff duties this week. The Browns have not attempted a field goal longer than 31 yards since Dawson's injury.
- With tight ends Steve Heiden, Robert Royal, AND Greg Estandia all on the injury report, expect Michael Gaines to continue seeing action this week.
- Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll indicated that Joshua Cribbs might be used more at running back moving forward. If that happens this week, I'll be both happy and upset. Happy that we went through with it, but upset that Daboll blew the potential surprise facing the Bears' defense.
- Browns RB Jamal Lewis as struggled with a 3.4 yards per carry average this season, but Bears RB Matt Forte hasn't had much more luck with a 3.5 yards per carry average.
- Chicago is set to have backup running back "The Other Adrian Peterson" return to action this week. He has been out since Week 4 with a knee injury.
- A Browns wide receiver has still yet to catch a touchdown this season. After Carson Palmer torched the Bears for five touchdowns last week, will that change this week for Cleveland? You have to imagine that Derek Anderson will have his "beasting" game at some point...or not.
- With D'Qwell Jackson out, the Browns' two leading tacklers this season are Eric Barton and Abram Elam, both former Jets.
- Jay Cutler was picked 3 times last week; the Browns' defense has 3 picks all season.
- The Browns will be facing their former teammate, RT Kevin Shaffer, who now starts for the Bears. Likewise, the Bears will be facing RT John St. Clair, their former starter.
- Last week, Bears CB Charles Tillman struggled all day against Chad Ochocinco, yielding two touchdowns and over 100 yards receiving to the loud-mouthed receiver. CB Zackary Bowman also struggled, giving up an early touchdown to WR Chris Henry.
- This is the second time the Browns are headed to Chicago this season. They played their on September 3, 2009 for their final preseason game.
I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! Also, don't forget to change your clocks, otherwise you'll mis-time the start of the Browns game!