Good morning, Cleveland Browns fans, and welcome to gameday! Be sure to check out our game preview and prediction for the Browns' Week 5 matchup today against the Tennessee Titans. In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five," I take a look at the backstory of RB Isaiah Crowell, the possibility of signing K Matt Prater, and more.
During the bye week, Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote a great article on Browns RB Isaiah Crowell and the path that led him to the NFL. The extra lengths to which the Browns went to acquire him make you feel even better about Ray Farmer being the team's general manager. Crowell said that three teams formally met with him at the NFL Combine -- the Browns, Dolphins and Raiders. Crowell was crushed when he wasn't selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Five minutes after the draft ended, he received a phone call directly from Farmer.
As Reed describes, over 20 teams contacted Crowell's agent about signing him, but Farmer was the only one who reached out to Crowell personally. That personal touch could have gone a long way in Crowell's mind, but the article also talks about several other things that the undrafted free agent considered:
Crowell was one of 17 names left on the Browns' draft board as the event ended. Farmer wasted no time contacting him. In rating the merits of the four finalists, the Crowells liked the wide-zone blocking scheme, the fact the Browns were committed to Tate for just two years and Farmer's aggressiveness.
I didn't know enough about Crowell due to his limited work in camp and the preseason, but I now feel foolish for thinking he could slide onto the Browns' practice squad. Crowell has been awesome through three games, and his performance is the reason why I feel Terrance West will take a back seat if Ben Tate is good-to-go.
The Denver Broncos released veteran kicker Matt Prater on Friday. He is set to return from his suspension on October 6th, and you can guarantee that teams with problems at the kicker position are going to try to snatch him up. He is coming off the best season of his career in 2013, when he connected on 25-of-26 attempts with a long of 64 yards. He certainly had the benefit of kicking in Denver for his long-range kicks, but he also wasn't too shabby of a kicker on the road.
Prater has hit on 21-of-27 (77.8%) attempts from beyond 50 yards in his career, a rather remarkable feat. To compare, Billy Cundiff is 7-of-26 (26.9%) in his career from beyond 50 yards. If the Browns want to contend this year, having a player like Prater at kicker would be a big lift to the special teams unit. Cleveland will have to address the kicker position next year anyway, so why not get an early start and lock up Prater for a multi-year deal?
While it is cold in Cleveland, it sounds like Browns fans are going to try to make their team feel at home today in Nashville. Take a look at the number of Browns fans who were at a bar in Nashville on Saturday:
Unreal turnout for the @BrownsBackers Bash in Nashville. Over 1,000 members of the #DawgPound here tonight!!! pic.twitter.com/jjMLEweERL— Kevin Griffin (@KevinGriffin425) October 4, 2014
Although I feel confident about the Browns' chances this week, statistically, I shouldn't. The Browns have not won a road game in over a year, and they got off to an awful start in their only other road game of the season against the Steelers. I'm hopeful that the bye week eases the tension of being on the road, because this could very well be the most important game Cleveland will have all season.
I see this as the "defining point" of the season. Getting back to .500 at 2-2 is a big difference than being 1-3. It provides the confidence needed for a stretch of games that Cleveland could potentially win five in a row. Last year, I felt the "defining point" was the game against the Bengals after the bye -- after a great start to that game, the second quarter, and then the rest of the season, was miserable. Let's hope the Browns have indeed turned the corner and will prove it this week.
It's time to predict the inactives for today's game. Here are my guesses for the Browns' gameday inactives against the Titans (there are seven inactives required): RB Glenn Winston, WR Rodney Smith, TE Gerrell Robinson, OL Vinston Painter, DE Desmond Bryant, OLB Eric Martin, and CB Pierre Desir.
The changes projected this week would be for Winston to be active and RB Ben Tate to make his return, and then DE Desmond Bryant to be inactive after being limited in practice all week.