This is going to be a make or break season with the Browns for Lee Suggs, one
of less than 20 players remaining from the team Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage
inherited 18 months ago.
No one is debating whether Suggs has the skill to make it and even start in
the NFL. He rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games in
2004. He averaged four yards a carry on 263 carries in his first three seasons,
which isn't bad at all considering he was behind an offensive line Savage and
Crennel have found necessary to revamp by 80 percent.
On the other hand Suggs has missed 23 of 48 games with various injuries. If
it were a knee injury that kept him out one full season, management could look
upon that as a hazard of the job. Suggs has had injuries to a toe, an ankle, a
neck and his shoulder over three years. When he has been hurt he has proven to
be a slow healer.
"This is almost like Lee's first year with us because of injuries and
different things that happened last year," Savage, in his second year as general
manager, said recently. "Lee Suggs is a talent. We don't want to short-change
talent with the Browns. If he can play, then we want him as part of our team,
but he has to prove he can do it for more than one game.
"I've gotten emails from people saying not to give up on Lee Suggs. We
haven't done that. But what you have to realize is we don't play a one-game
season. We play 16 games. Sometimes dependability and durability override pure
ability. That's what he has to show us."
For the first time since their return in 1999, the Browns have depth at
running back. With one spot going to starter Reuben Droughns -- assuming
Droughns escapes league punishment in his domestic violence case -- and another
going to rookie Jerome Harrison, either Suggs or William Green is in danger of
As unproductive as he has been, Green has at least stayed healthy for four
years, excluding the shoulder injury that was the start of his troubles in 2003.
The Browns view Green more as a first- and second-down player and Suggs as a
change of pace back.
Savage and Crennel also like Jason Wright, the running back from Northwestern
who last season scored the team's first rushing touchdown of 2005 eight games
into the season.
SAFETY BATTLE COMING UP: The Browns have 18 defensive backs
in their minicamp, an indication the secondary is unsettled after the starters.
Safety is a particular area of concentration, where Brian Russell is the only
Sean Jones, after a disappointing 2005, had a strong offseason, according to
general manager Phil Savage. Since Butch Davis, not Savage, drafted Jones,
Savage's praise has to be genuine. The Browns thought enough of Jones to trade
starter Chris Crocker in the offseason.
Significantly, Jones had major knee surgery in June 2004. He was healthy
enough to play last season, but rust from going a year without football might
have contributed to his poor play last season. It might be an indication Braylon Edwards won't be 100 percent until 2007. Edwards had major knee surgery in
January. The target date for his return is Oct. 1.