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News » Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2008-12-12

Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2008-12-12

Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2008-12-12
Among the many decisions facing the Browns in the upcoming offseason is whether to bring back Kellen Winslow Jr. for the 2009 season. Winslow is signed through 2010.

Winslow says he wants to return to the Browns in 2009. Whether that happens could hinge on who shapes the roster next season.

Winslow will not play against the Eagles Monday night because his sprained left ankle hasn't healed. He said even if the Browns were playing in the Super Bowl on Monday, he would not be able to suit up, as much as he would like to.

"I love being a Cleveland Brown," Winslow said. "The guys here, we don't know who's going to be here next year. You just have to focus on this year. That's all you can do."

Winslow and general manager Phil Savage butted heads in October after Winslow said the Browns were not doing enough to protect their players from staph infection. Winslow said the Browns told him to keep his staph infection from earlier in the month a secret.

Browns owner Randy Lerner, Savage and coach Romeo Crennel decided to suspend Winslow for a week, which included the game in Jacksonville. The suspension was rescinded the day before the game (Winslow did not play) and his fine was reduced from a game check exceeding $235,000 to $25,000.

If Savage is still in charge of the football team after Lerner evaluates Savage and Crennel following the season, Winslow might be traded for draft picks. Recurring offensive interference penalties, his demand for a new contract and his general health are among other reasons the Browns might choose to part ways.

If Lerner decides to strip some power from Savage and puts someone else in command while hiring a different coach, the new regime might look at what Winslow can do on a football field and give him another chance.

"Mr. Lerner and I have a very good relationship," Winslow said. "I'm very happy with him."

Savage met with the media last week. He has chosen not to address any subjects beyond this season. Asked the day after lifting the suspension about Winslow's future beyond 2008, Savage would not answer.

"I will say since that whole ordeal I've seen Kellen a number of times," Savage said last week. "Prior to that week, he and I had always gotten along well and we have gotten along well since. For whatever reason, during that two-week period, we got put in a situation where it looked like we were at total odds. Obviously there were a lot of other factors involved but there is only going to be two names in it publicly."

Winslow caught 89 passes in 2006 after playing just two of 32 games his first two years. He caught 82 passes and scored five touchdowns last season when the Browns won 10 games.

Rookie Martin Rucker, drafted with the idea of teaming him with Winslow, has one catch.

Tight end Steve Heiden has 23 catches, third most on the team. Heiden caught 12 passes last season.

--Jamal Lewis is 95 yards shy of becoming the 24th runner in NFL history to reach 10,000 yards for his career. It is a milestone that should fill him with pride when he reaches it, but the way this season has gone is taking some glow from the accomplishment.

Lewis has rushed for exactly 800 yards through 12 games. Last year, he rushed for 1,304 yards while playing in 15 games and getting only one carry for 11 yards in another game.

This week, the Browns are focusing on their game against the Eagles Monday night in Philadelphia, but the bigger question as they have to think about next season is whether Lewis can be their primary running back for 2009 and whether the offensive line might not be as good as team officials thought it was at the start of 2008.

Lewis carried seven times in the 28-9 loss to the Titans last week and gained only 7 yards. He isn't the only one who struggled, either. The Browns ran the ball 19 times and totaled 35 yards.

Lewis has suspended talking to reporters. The last time he was interviewed he complained about the play-calling of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. Specifically, he said practice the week before the Browns lost to the Texans focused on running the ball, but he got only 10 carries in a 16-6 loss. He gained 58 yards. His 5.8 average was a true reflection of the success the Browns had running against Houston. It wasn't like he ran for 55 yards on one play and three on the other nine.

The following week, Chudzinski did focus the offense on Lewis. Lewis rushed 24 times for 77 yards. Then came the seven-carry, 7-yard effort against the Titans.

Linked to the inability to run in most games is the Browns have played three straight games without scoring a touchdown. Phil Dawson kicked two field goals against the Texans, two against the Colts and three against the Titans.

Coach Romeo Crennel said Lewis is running as hard as ever, but the production is lacking. Lewis' longest run this season is 29 yards. Last year he broke out on touchdown runs of 66 and 31 yards.

"We've been getting turnovers and we haven't been making anything happen with them," center and offensive co-captain Hank Fraley said. "We haven't scored touchdowns in a long while here. Getting field goals when they're getting seven, the lead gets stretched out. I'm lost for words."

The scoring drought is reminiscent of the Browns in the expansion years. The last time they went a three-game stretch without an offensive touchdown was in mid-2000 when they played the Bengals, Steelers and Giants. They finished 3-13 that season. Coach Chris Palmer was fired and replaced by Butch Davis.

With every loss, Crennel's chances of returning next season grow slimmer. This is Crennel's fourth season coaching the Browns. Unless they win their last three games, the Browns will lose at least 10 games in three of the four seasons. The Browns were 6-10 in 2005, 4-12 in 2006 and 10-6 last year. They are 4-9 in 2008. Last year their only victory against a team with a winning record was 33-30 over the Seahawks in overtime.

SERIES HISTORY: 47th regular-season meeting. The Browns lead the series, 31-14-1. The Browns did most of their damage against the Eagles in a 14-game stretch from 1963 through 1979, winning 12 times in 14 games. The post-1999 Browns cannot make the same claim. They lost to the Eagles, 35-24, in 2000 when Chris Palmer coached the Browns and 34-31 in overtime in 2004 when Butch Davis was the coach. This will be Romeo Crennel's first game against the Eagles.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 12, 2008

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Ken Dorsey Name: Ken Dorsey
Position: QB
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: Miami (FL)
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