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Green Finds Focus

Postby slowkidz » Sat Oct 23, 2004 10:31 pm

Browns' Green finds his focus


Knight Ridder Newspapers

CLEVELAND - (KRT) - William Green, a running back
for the Cleveland Browns, grew up idolizing
Randall Cunningham, the former Eagles
quarterback. When he was a student at Holy Spirit
High in South Jersey, he remembers, he was
excited when the Eagles selected Donovan McNabb
in the draft.

Green says he has come a long way since those
days. He has achieved his dream of playing in the
NFL, even though the road he traveled to get
there included arrests, suspensions, and a
childhood he prefers not to talk about publicly.

So far this season, Green, a self-proclaimed "new
man," has stayed out of trouble off the field and
been focused on it. He has run the ball 88 times
for 367 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He
hopes to add to his totals in a big way today
when the Eagles (5-0) visit the Browns (3-3).

Green, a native of Atlantic City, was a force
last Sunday, gaining 115 yards on 25 carries in
the Browns' 34-17 win over the visiting
Cincinnati Bengals.

Green splits time with Lee Suggs, who has carried
46 times for 131 yards and who caught five passes
for 100 yards against the Bengals. Green has
started every game this season, although as of
Friday, Suggs was listed as No. 1 on the depth

Green, 24, has learned to capitalize on his
playing time, and coach Butch Davis usually keeps
feeding the ball to the hot hand on game day.

"I feel like I'm running really good," Green
said. "I feel like I've come into my own. I'm
ready to take off and be a better back. I am
splitting time with another back, so I have to do
what I can when I'm out there."

Green followed that approach against Cincinnati.
On a 79-yard, second-quarter touchdown drive, he
shouldered his way downfield like a bouncer
making his way through the throng at a "Star Trek
convention. He gained 66 yards on eight carries
before Jeff Garcia connected with tight end Aaron
Shea in the end zone as time ran out in the first

"You couldn't ask a kid to run any harder," Davis
said. "You couldn't ask him to block any better.
On one of the passes, (the Bengals) brought a
blitz, and he absolutely slaughtered the guy. The
kid is playing good."

Davis' splitting the tailbacks' playing time has
not always worked smoothly. Green felt slighted
when the coach kept him on the bench for the
second half of Cleveland's 17-13 win over the
Washington Redskins on Oct. 3. Suggs carried 22
times for 82 yards that day; Green carried just
four times for 17 yards.

Davis said then that the disparity was
unintentional. And judging by Green's workload
last Sunday, coach and player are patching things

The same plays are called regardless of which
tailback is on the field, Davis said.

Green describes his relationship with Davis as
"pretty good.

"He sat me down and talked to me and told me I'd
be sharing time," Green said. "He said he wanted
to play both of us.

"Obviously, the more I run the ball, the more I'm
going to get into a groove. I can only do what's
in my control of doing. I feel like the coaches
are going to do what they like and what they want
to do no matter what I say or what reaction I

Green declined to talk about his rocky upbringing
in Atlantic City. His mother and father both died
of AIDS while he was in high school. He wound up
getting a football scholarship to Boston College,
where he is second in school history with 33

Green averaged 3.7 yards per carry as an NFL
rookie in 2002 after becoming Cleveland's No. 1
draft pick that year. He averaged 3.9 yards per
carry last season, but his season was marred by

Besides missing one game because of a shoulder
injury, Green was suspended for eight games for
violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
During a domestic dispute, he suffered a stab
wound, and the mother of his two children was
charged in the incident. In addition, he served
three days in jail after his conviction on
drunken-driving charges.

This season has been different.

"Definitely, I'm more into my religion," he said.
"God is in my life. And when that happens, you're
a new man or woman. My religion has been
important to me since I was a kid. I'm trying to
go back to that and stay consistent with that."

Davis said he respects the player - and person -
Green is working to become.

"In 31 years of coaching, you make a lot of
decisions based on gut feelings on how you feel
about people and who deserves second chances,"
Davis said during a conference call with

"There's very few guys playing in the National
Football League that had much tougher childhoods
than William Green. He's really a good, good
person at heart. This organization believed he
deserved that second opportunity. I believe he's
grown and matured. He's doing well for us."

Green's teammates say both he and Suggs are
invaluable, and the Browns figure to need all the
help they can get from them to beat the Eagles.

"Every time (Green) touches the ball, something
happens," offensive lineman Ryan Tucker said.
"It's awesome to have two guys like that. It's a
win-win for us."


© 2004, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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