4 Cleveland Browns

Roster turnover has produced hope for the 3-4 defense and-smile if you've heard this one before-stability at quarterback
September 03, 2006

THE BELIEFSecond-year man Charlie Frye will prove to be the Browns' long-sought franchisequarterback, leading an invigorated offense with the help of two receivers backfrom injuries, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. On defense, veteranfree-agent pickups Willie McGinest and Ted Washington will fit nicely intocoach Romeo Crennel's 3-4 scheme.

THE REALITYFrye's first test in crisis management came in the initial 11-on-11 contactdrill of training camp, when center LeCharles Bentley, the team's prizefree-agent acquisition, went down with a season-ending knee injury. Shockedthat the powerful Bentley could be felled so quickly, Frye kept his emotions tohimself and moved the offense downfield. "You blow a tire, you change itand keep going," Frye says. "You can't let anyone see youmoping."

It's his coolunder fire as much as his athleticism that has impressed the coaches. Since theNFL returned to Cleveland in 1999, the club has had one winning season (2002)while rolling out quarterback after quarterback, including Ty Detmer, TimCouch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia and Trent Dilfer.

General managerPhil Savage first saw Frye during his junior year at Akron and was won over bythe passer's resilience while getting clobbered by Penn State in the opener ofhis senior season. At the Senior Bowl four months later, Frye didn't look likeanything special during the week of workouts; once the game started he ran offwith the MVP award. Similarly, in his first training camp last summer Fryeseemed to elevate his game during two-minute drills. While Frye doesn't throwthe deep ball especially well, the Browns like his mobility and creativity."I see a guy who is going to make a lot of big plays after plays breakdown," says Edwards.

Those breakdownsmay occur often this season because the offensive line is shaky at best, andFrye, who started the last five games of the season, has barely played with anyof his top receivers: Edwards, who tore his right ACL and sat out the last fourgames; Winslow, who missed all but two games of his first two seasons withinjuries; and Joe Jurevicius, a free-agent signee.

The defense has anew look too-and with good reason. Last season the unit had the fewest sacks(23) in the league and lacked the right personnel for Crennel's 3-4. Theyaddressed that issue through free agency (McGinest and Washington) and thedraft, selecting linebackers Kamerion Wimbley (first round, Florida State),D'Qwell Jackson (second, Maryland) and Leon Williams (fourth, Miami).

All these movesreflect a franchise in transition. At the opening of camp 70 of the 91 playershad been brought in by Savage and Crennel in the last 18 months. Crennel hasset a modest goal for his team in 2006: simply improve on last year's 6-10performance. Playing in the tough AFC North and having so many new andinexperienced players in the lineup, the Browns may quickly discover thatwinning two more games than they did in 2005 is the best-case scenario.

2006 SCHEDULE

SEPTEMBER

10 NEWORLEANS

17 atCincinnati

24 BALTIMORE

OCTOBER

1 at Oakland

8 at Carolina

15 Bye

22 DENVER

29 N.Y. JETS

NOVEMBER

5 at SanDiego

12 at Atlanta

19 PITTSBURGH

26 CINCINNATI

DECEMBER

3 KANSAS CITY

7 at Pittsburgh(T)

17 atBaltimore

24 TAMPA BAY

31 at Houston

(T) Thursday

SCHEDULESTRENGTH

NFL rank 14

Opponents' 2005winning percentage .512

Games againstplayoff teams 6

ENEMY LINES

AN OPPOSINGTEAM'S SCOUT SIZES UP THE BROWNS

> CharlieFrye might not have every tangible-the big arm or big size or supermobility-buthe's calm under pressure, makes good decisions and has competitive fire.

> I knowpeople like Reuben Droughns, but I've never thought he could carry the load asa No. 1 back.

> I likeCleveland's first-round pick, Kamerion Wimbley. He can rush the passer and hastremendous upside.

> LosingLeCharles Bentley (knee injury) hurts. It's hard to break in a youngquarterback with a center who might be new to the system.

> I've neverliked linebacker Chaun Thompson. He's a liability in the passing game. You canscheme him.

> Failureearly in the season could be deadly. It takes early success to give youngplayers confidence.

Joe Jurevicius,Willie McGinest and Ted Washington will bring leadership, but they're on thedecline.

BREAKOUTPLAYER

KellenWinslow

TIGHT END

Displaying thehands and elusiveness that made him the No. 6 pick in 2004, a healthy Winslowimmediately becomes the Browns' No. 1 weapon, and they plan to use him in avariety of ways. Says coach Romeo Crennel, "Is he a tight end? Is he a widereceiver? Is he an H-back? Defenses will have to decide how they want to playWinslow."

PROJECTEDSTARTING LINEUP

WITH 2005STATISTICS

COACH ROMEOCRENNEL (6-10 in NFL), second season with Cleveland

OFFENSE

BRAYLONEDWARDS
POS WR
REC 32
YARDS 512
TD 3

REUBENDROUGHNS
POS RB
RUSH 309
YARDS 1,232
TD 2

CHARLIEFRYE
POS QB
ATT 164
COMP 98
PCT 59.8
YARDS 1,002
TD 4
INT 5
RATING 72.8

TERRELLESMITH
POS FB
RUSH 6
YARDS 9
TD 1

JOE JUREVICIUS --NEW ACQUISITION
POS WR
REC 55
YARDS 694
TD 10

PHIL DAWSON
POS K
FG 27-29
POINTS 100

KELLENWINSLOW*
POS TE
REC 5
YARDS 50
TD 0

KEVIN SHAFFER --NEW ACQUISITION
POS LT
HT 6'5"
WT 290
G 16

JOEANDRUZZI
POS LG
HT 6'3"
WT 312
G 13

ROSS TUCKER --NEW ACQUISITION
POS C
HT 6'4"
WT 316
G 1

COSEYCOLEMAN
POS RG
HT 6'4"
WT 322
G 14

RYAN TUCKER
POS RT
HT 6'6"
WT 320
G 16

DEFENSE

ORPHEUSROYE
POS LE
TACKLES 88
SACKS 3

D'QWELL JACKSON(R) -- NEW ACQUISITION
POS WLB
TACKLES 137
SACKS 4
INT 2

TED WASHINGTON --NEW ACQUISITION
POS NT
TACKLES 47
SACKS 0

ANDRA DAVIS
POS MLB
TACKLES 149
SACKS 2
INT 1

ALVINMCKINLEY
POS RE
TACKLES 68
SACKS 5

GARY BAXTER
POS CB
TACKLES 22
SACKS 0
INT 2

DAVE ZASTUDIL --NEW ACQUISITION
POS P
PUNTS 84
AVG 43.5

SEAN JONES
POS SS
TACKLES 23
SACKS 0
INT 0

KAMERION WIMBLEY(R) -- NEW ACQUISITION
POS ROLB
TACKLES 26
SACKS 7 1/2
INT 0

BRIANRUSSELL
POS FS
TACKLES 70
SACKS 0
INT 3

WILLIE MCGINEST-- NEW ACQUISITION
POS LOLB
TACKLES 56
SACKS 6
INT 0

LEIGHBODDEN
POS CB
TACKLES 56
INT 3

NEWACQUISITION
*2004 STATISTICS
(R) Rookie (college statistics)

2005 RECORD6-10
NFL RANK (RUSH/PASS/TOTAL)
OFFENSE 25/23/26
DEFENSE 30/4/16

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PHOTOMARK DUNCAN/AP (EDWARDS)THERE'S A CATCH Edwards gives his new quarterback a good set of hands, but there are questions about his durability. PHOTOJOHN BIEVERMCGINEST PHOTOMARK DUNCAN/AP PHOTOHELMET PHOTO BY DAVID N. BERKWITZ TWO PHOTOS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)