Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cleveland Browns Training Camp Week 3: Let the Injuries Begin!

It’s been a week since the Browns faced off against the New York Jets in their first pre-season game and it will be another half week until the face the defending NFL Champions, the New York Giants, on Monday night football. So it’s been back to the daily grind on training camp in Berea, Ohio for the Brown and Orange.

Nothing really good can come with that long of a lay-off. For the Browns the injury bug has visited them in full force over the past few days. Nothing super serious to get worked up over but nothing that can be overlooked either.

It started with rookie linebacker Beau Bell, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery the day of the Jets game, and will be out four to six weeks. This coupled with the news that rookie tight end Martin Rucker will also be out four to six weeks after suffering a torn meniscus Monday afternoon.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot makes a great point and does some excellent math in her write up on Rucker’s injury. If both players are out the full six weeks they would miss the first three games of the season. The Browns bye week is Week 5. Could you get a rookie back up to speed in a week and even if you could what impact would they have?

Losing Bell hurts because they were expecting him to be a key member of special teams this year and the Browns Special Teams are just that, special. He can still contribute but any hopes of him getting worked in on defense will probably have to wait until 2009.

I am totally bummed about the loss of Rucker. He was a complete Kellen Winslow clone in the pre-season opener and I was drool over thought of those two and Braylon Edwards and Donte Stallworth on the field at the same time. Now that will have to be put on hold for a quarter of the season.

It also causes a roster conundrum. The Browns have a bounty of tight ends, so much so that GM Phil Savage has been trying to swing a deal for and experienced cornerback by trading one of them. But with Rucker’s injury, Winslow’s always troublesome knee and Steve Heiden still recovering from off-season back surgery they may be forced to keep four tight ends to start the season.

Going back to Braylon Edwards and Donte Stallworth, the two combined for some post-practice shenanigans on Saturday afternoon. The result was an undisclosed number of stitches and an overnight stay in the Cleveland Clinic for Edwards. He and Stallworth were goofing around in post-practice conditioning and Stallworth inadvertently stepped on Edwards’ heel.

This would not have been an issue if Edwards had been WEARING HIS FREAKING SHOES LIKE A NORMAL PERSON but he was not and now will likely miss the next two exhibition games if not the rest of exhibition season. He should be fine but you have to worry about his timing with the offense and QB Derek Anderson. Luckily the Browns seem to have some depth at wide receiver so it may be an opportunity for some of the young guys to show what they can do.

Stallworth was extremely upset at himself for the incident but one has to wonder if foul play was involved. We still haven’t heard from Nicco, the alien that lives inside Donte’s brain when he's on the field and spends rest of the time on Mars, since his arrival in Cleveland. Once has to wonder if Nicco had a hand in this bit of stupidity, er, I mean misfortune.

In other news, the Browns cut ties with defensive back Gary Baxter. No one can doubt Baxter’s heart for attempting to comeback after he tore both patellar tendons on the same play in 2006. The Browns released Baxter four days after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to remove loose cartilage because they could no afford to hold a spot for him with their lack of depth in the defensive secondary.

How bad was that secondary in the Jets game? Bad enough that safety Steve Cargile got cut after only one exhibition game. To take Cargile and Baxter’s spots on the roster the Browns signed first-year man Brandon Mitchell and rookie Travis Key. Let the revolving door begin.

Regardless, good luck to Gary Baxter with wherever he goes from here. Whether he does eventually make it back into the NFL or goes into the broadcast booth, Baxter is a class act and a good guy and deserves the best. Good luck, Gary!

Go Browns! Believeland! Believe In Now!

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