Line not as offensive as it was in the past
By SCOTT PETRAK
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The offensive line was doomed
by injuries and poor play last year and remains
one of the biggest question marks surrounding the
Browns. But after more than a week of training
camp and two practices Friday against the Buffalo
Bills, optimism is running high.
"The depth is better this year," right tackle
Ryan Tucker said.
Tucker is penciled in as the starter alongside
right guard Kelvin Garmon, center Jeff Faine and
left tackle Ross Verba. Chad Beasley was given
the first shot at left guard, but the line is
forming behind him.
Paul Zukauskas and Enoch DeMar have made good
first impressions and will receive time with the
first team in the scrimmage today.
"Buffalo's front seven is physical and big,"
coach Butch Davis said. "They're a significant
challenge. It will be a great evaluation for us
and give us a chance to see how we're improving."
DeMar, who has been getting time with the second
team at left tackle, was fired up Friday morning,
shouting to his teammates during early drills. He
and Zukauskas caught Davis' eye once again.
"He's making a run," Davis said of Zukauskas. "He
has had a very good camp so far. You don't want
to make battlefield promotions, because we've
only been playing against ourselves.
"We will give him a shot with the first team and
see how he responds."
Zukauskas started 10 games at right guard last
o o o
WASTING NO TIME: The morning practice started
with a live punting drill. On the first play,
Buffalo's Nate Clements and Pierson Prioleau
double-teamed Cleveland gunner Leigh Bodden, who
couldn't get off the line and was driven to the
ground. The gunners line up wide and must fight
through two guys. Often times they are knocked to
the ground or pushed into the sidelines. "I
wouldn't want that job," Verba said. "It's 2-on-1
going downfield. That's a tough way to make the
team." The drill set the tone for an intense
practice with hard hitting and a few short,
punchless skirmishes. "Spirits were up,"
first-year Bills coach Mike Mularkey said.
"That's going to happen in a violent game like
this. Nothing got out of hand, and I think the
players handled it well."
o o o
MONEY TALKS: Jeff Garcia's public plea for Kellen
Winslow Jr. to end his holdout has met with mixed
reaction inside and outside of the Cleveland
locker room. "Jeff's being a politician," Buffalo
safety Lawyer Milloy said. "Jeff's got his
money." Milloy, a longtime Patriot, was cut by
New England right before the start of the 2003
season for salary cap reasons. "This is a
business," he said. "I don't know why some of the
guys don't have stronger representation.
Organizations take advantage of guys who they
don't think have good representation."
o o o
FAIR AND SQUARE: Running backs Lee Suggs and
William Green alternated plays during practice,
thus sharing time with the first-team offense. "I
thought the running backs ran hard," Davis said.
"William Green in particular made good runs and
got into the secondary." Green used a nice block
from fullback Terrelle Smith to break a long run
straight up the middle during an 11-on-11 drill.
o o o
INJURY REPORT: Verba had a trainer wrap his right
leg on the outside of his pants during the
morning practice. Verba said he tweaked a groin
muscle when his foot slipped on the damp grass.
He said he's fine and continued to practice.
Cornerback Michael Lehan missed the afternoon
practice with a sprained foot. He wore a walking
boot and is listed as day to day. Receiver
Frisman Jackson (sore knee) and defensive lineman
Jamal Reynolds (sore back) also missed the
afternoon practice. Cornerback Anthony Henry was
back after sitting out Thursday's practice with a
o o o
EXTRA POINTS: Garcia showed his playmaking
ability during an 11-on-11 drill. He scrambled to
his left, then lofted a touch pass on the move to
tight end Aaron Shea streaking down the left
sideline. ... Running back Dee Brown, taking
James Jackson's place with the third team,
squeezed through a tiny opening for a nice run. .
Safety Chris Crocker made a couple of big hits
during the afternoon practice. . Rookie Luke
McCown was the only Browns quarterback to lead
the team to a touchdown during the two-minute
drill. He hit tight end Darnell Sanders for the
o o o
CAMPER OF THE DAY: Punter Derrick Frost took the
early lead in the competition with Ryan Dutton
with a solid morning practice. He didn't have a
kick blocked, handled a low snap and impressed
the coach. "You look at the get-off time, the
distance and the hang time," Davis said. "Derrick
Frost had an outstanding morning."
o o o
PLAY OF THE DAY: Jeff Garcia hit Quincy Morgan
for a touchdown on a fade route to the left
corner of the end zone in team drills. Morgan
made a nice, leaping catch in tight coverage.
o o o
LERNER'S LYRICS: "You can do a lot better than my
autograph." Owner Randy Lerner, to a few Browns
fans after practice.