Berea – When Romeo Crennel said cornerback Ray Mickens was at the top of the Browns' short list, he wasn't kidding.
Mickens, 32, was signed and on the field for Thursday's practice. The nine-year NFL veteran played with the New York Jets his entire career after being the Jets' third-round draft choice in 1996. He missed the 2004 season after tearing his ACL in a preseason practice. The Jets waived Mickens when they signed cornerback Ty Law.
"I have a lot of work to do to get back to where I want to be," Mickens said. "I feel I've been one of the better nickel backs in the NFL.
"My job is to be a piece of the puzzle to help the Browns get back to the playoffs."
Crennel sees Mickens fitting into the mix and give the Browns some experience. Crennel hopes to get Mickens on the field against Detroit. Leigh Bodden will start in place of Michael Lehan and Daylon McCutcheon at left corner, but Crennel said Mickens would be in the mix for the starting job.
"He brings nine years experience with him," Crennel said. "We told Ray he would be a starting nickel back and compete for a starting job at left corner.
Mickens (5-8, 180 pounds) has a history with Crennel when Crennel was the Jets' defensive line coach from 1997-99. His best season in the NFL was in 2003 when he played in all 16 games, including 14 starts and had 75 tackles, 18 pass break ups and two interceptions.
"The defense is familiar to me," Mickens said. "I just need to get to the point where I don't have to think about the call on the field."
In his career, Mickens has played in 126 games and totaled 365 tackles, including 11 interceptions, six sacks, 79 pass deflections, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Mickens picked off a Charlie Frye pass in the end zone in his first practice in the brown and orange.
"As a kid growing up Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon made me want to play cornerback," Mickens said. "Even though I was from Texas I followed the Browns. (Dixon and Minnifield) had a big influence on me."
To make room for Mickens the Browns released defensive lineman Kevin Carberry.
Suggs Out: QB Doug Johnson (arm), CB Daylon McCutcheon (headaches), OL John Dunn (foot), CB Michal Lehan (hamstring) and RB Lee Suggs (ankle) did not practice. Crennel ruled all but Suggs as out of Saturday's game with Detroit.
"Suggs is day-to-day," Crennel said.
Suggs' ankle was taped heavily and he spent the practice riding on the stationary bicycle. He turned it in practice on Wednesday when he tried to catch a pass behind him.
The injury allowed RB Rueben Droughns and William Green to get most of the work in the backfield.
Bryant Excused: WR Antonio Bryant was excused by Crennel due to a death in the family. Crennel said when Bryant missed practice a week ago it was due to the family member being very ill. He is expected to re-join the team in Detroit either Friday night or Saturday. He is expected to play, but if he is unable to make it rookie WR Braylon Edwards could see more time.
"Braylon's is slated to play in the second half," Crennel said. "He might make a cameo appearance in the first half. However, if Antonio is not there, Braylon might get on the field sooner."
Frye No. 2: QB Charlie Frye will follow QB Trent Dilfer in the rotation against the Lions. He is expected to enter the game in the second quarter.
"He should see action by the middle of the second quarter," Crennel said. "He will get to go against better competition."
Frye is ready for the chance.
"I'm excited that I should play more than last week," he said. "I want to learn to feel more comfortable with the reads I have to make."