The Browns’ 18-0 win over the Bengals may have marked a changing of the guard at free safety.
Percy Ellsworth, who had been the starter, was replaced in the starting lineup by Devin Bush. Ellsworth had started 25 straight games since he signed with the Browns prior to the 2000 season.
“I never really considered myself a backup,” said Bush, who was signed on Sept 2, one day after being waived by St. Louis. “I consider myself a starter, but for different reasons things happened. I had to remain patient, and now I’m getting to start.”
Bush was considered a hot prospect when Atlanta drafted him in the first round (26th overall) in 1995. After playing for the Falcons in their Super Bowl loss to Denver in the 1998 season, Bush signed with the Rams as an unrestricted free agent.
Bush doesn’t look at his move to Cleveland as a resurrection of his career.
“I was never dead,” he said. “I started for the Rams last year. We struggled on defense, and I moved on.”
FEELING GOOD: Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon had his sights set on the rematch with the Bengals after the Browns lost, 24-14, in Cincinnati last month. McCutcheon dropped what should have been an easy interception, typifying the defense’s performance that day.
“This is a big step for me because I felt like I didn’t play well in the first Cincinnati game,” McCutcheon said. “You don’t want to look too far ahead, but at the same time I kind of circled this on my calendar. I felt like I had something to prove.”
BIG TIME: Receiver Kevin Johnson surpassed the 100-yard mark in receptions for the fifth time in his three-year career with six catches for 113 yards and one touchdown. Four of the five performances have been against the Bengals.
Johnson was the lone offensive standout.
“It’s tough sometimes,” Johnson said. “I think sometimes I can become (Tim) Couch’s security blanket. He knows that if he throws it to me, I’m going to do my best to make a play on it. We’ve been together so long that sometimes things click. Sometimes the timing is picture perfect.”
FIRST TIME: Kicker Phil Dawson was wide left on an extra-point kick in the second quarter. It was the first time Dawson missed an extra point since he had one blocked by Baltimore on Nov. 7, 1999. He had a streak of 51 consecutive successful extra points.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive end Tyrone Rogers strained an abdominal muscle in the first quarter and returned. Running back James Jackson re-injured an ankle injury and returned. Punter Chris Gardocki wasn’t announced on the injury report, but he was in the X-ray room after the game. Gardocki was knocked to the ground trying to make a tackle of T.J. Houshmandzadeh on an 86-yard punt return.