BEREA, Ohio— Ben Watson has been exactly what the Browns were looking for at tight end. After Kellen Winslow was traded in 2009, the Browns didn’t have a go to guy at the tight end position.
Watson is coming off a career best 10 reception game against the Dolphins for 100 yards and a touchdown. Watson leads the team in receiving yardage and is second in receptions.
“It definitely feels great to have your number called and be a part of the offense,” Watson said. “That’s why you play offense. You want to get a chance to contribute in any way. Whether it’s catching the ball or it’s blocking, there’s so much that goes into contributing to the offense. It’s not just numbers. There’s so much that goes into it, it takes 11 guys to do the right thing. We’ve got some good guys on this team. Obviously, we can improve in a lot of areas, but I think we are definitely heading in the right direction.”
Watson has 50 receptions on the season, which is more than he has ever had in a season in his career. Prior to this season, Watson’s best season was in 2006 with the Patriots when he had 49 catches for 643 yards and three touchdowns. He has 574 yards receiving this season, but has four more games to pick up the 70 yards needed to have his best season in yardage.
One of the obstacles he has had to overcome has been dealing with three different quarterbacks through the first 12 games.
“I’ve never been on a team that has gone through this many quarterbacks,” he said. “It’s definitely unique, I think, in that way. I think it attributes to the coaching staff and to the guys that are playing offense and to the quarterbacks.
“In this league, people get hurt and other guys have to be ready all of the time,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the game. It’s definitely a unique situation.”
Jake Delhomme is comfortable throwing the ball Watson’s way, as he has hit him 14 times in the last two games.
“The last two weeks, we’ve found ways to get it done,” Delhomme said. “Certainly, we ran the ball extremely well against Carolina. Last week, Miami did a very good job of stopping the run, - we knew going in it was going to be difficult - and other guys stepped up. Ben was one that played a huge part in that and I think Robert Royal didn’t get enough credit for what he did being able to play so much the other day also.”
With blustery conditions expected against Buffalo, Watson could be a big factor in the game.
“You never know what the conditions are going to be,” Watson said. “Each team has to play in it and you’ve got to be prepared for anything. We’ll do whatever it takes to win. I think that’s what we want to do as a team, that’s our goal and that’s what we’ve tried to improve on is just winning games. If that means running the football a lot, if that means throwing the ball, whatever it takes to win, that’s what we want to do.”
Cribbs Factor: Mangini said he expects Cribbs to be able to be used at wide receiver this week.
“We are another week further out, so I would expect that,” Mangini said. “The goal each week is to get him a little more at receiver and in the wildcat.”
Cribbs agrees with that assessment.
“Each week I get a little better, hopefully, I’ll get back to 100 percent,” he said. “Pushing off of that foot and making moves has been tough, but I’m pretty confident about moving back into the rotation.”
Cribbs’ production has been down on the return games, as he’s not returned any kickoffs or punts for a touchdown this season after returning three kicks for scores in 2009.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “In the early part of the season, teams were kicking away and we haven’t been able to get a rhythm. It’s disappointing that we haven’t been able to pull our weight.”
Mangini said that Cribbs’ presence on the field helps the team.
“(Cribbs’ foot) is not 100 percent by any stretch, but it’s important for him to be out there,” Mangini said. “It’s like everything else. You get the best shot from everyone you play. There’s definitely a heightened awareness when going against a guy like Josh that you don’t want to let him ruin the game.”
Injury Update: LB Titus Brown (head), LB Scott Fujita (knee), QB Colt McCoy (ankle), TE Evan Moore (hip) and LB Marcus Benard (personal) all missed practice Thursday.
Limited in practice were DL Kenyon Coleman (knee), WR Josh Cribbs (foot), OL Floyd Womack (knee), LB Eric Barton (shoulder), DL Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip) and DB Eric Wright (knee).
Mangini said he is ‘optimistic to see a couple of those guys before the week’s out’.
Mangini said that Fujita is progressing and that he was riding a bike.
“Each guy is a little different, but Scott is coming along,” Mangini said.
Mangini said the reason to not put Fujita on injured reserve was not because the Browns thought they could still be in a playoff run the final two weeks of the season.
“No, it would be because he wanted to play in those last two games and it might be sooner.”
Haden on Urban: Former Florida Gator, Joe Haden weighed in on the decision of his former coach to resign from his position.
“I was a little surprised,” Haden said. “But, he’s a great coach and family man and whatever is best for him and his family.”
Haden was asked if he thought he would end up in the NFL.
“He’s a great coach and wherever he goes or does, he will do a great job.”