Browns-Saints: Where Did Reuben Go?

The Browns running back disappeared in the second half of Sunday's game. Plus more notes from Sunday's offensive game...

The most baffling element of the Browns' opening-game loss to New Orleans was that running back Reuben Droughns had only 11 carries.

Droughns set a team record a year ago when he ran the ball 309 times, but against the Saints he seemed like an afterthought. The Browns chose to drop back to throw 33 times, and handed off to backs 16 times -- a ratio that is skewed.

The Browns offensive line is a big one and its strength is not mobility and pass-blocking. Its strength is strength.

The more the line blocks, the more Droughns runs, the better the running game. In theory at least.

Coach Rome Crennel said struggles in the first half led the team to lose confidence in the running game. Droughns had six carries for 16 yards, and the team's backs ran for 30 yards on 10 carries the first half.

But the Browns won't win many games if they keep abandoning Droughns. Even with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow on the field, the team's offense starts with and revolves around Droughns and the running game.


ELSEWHERE ON OFFENSE...

TE Kellen Winslow had an excellent game in the opener, his first in nearly two years. Winslow led the Browns with eight catches for 63 yards, including a touchdown.

Winslow's return from a broken leg and torn knee ligaments hasn't been easy, but his presence on the field meant a lot to the Browns offense.

He also was among the team's most vocal players on the sidelines and on the field. Clearly, Winslow lost none of his passion for the game when he was hurt.

WR Braylon Edwards had a mixed day in his return from a torn knee ligament. Edwards caught a touchdown pass on the first play of the game, but it was called back by penalty.

He nearly broke free for a score on a slant in the second half, but then dropped the Browns last pass of the game.

Edwards again appeared close to breaking a big play, but the ball ticked off his hands and was intercepted, securing New Orleans' victory.

QB Charlie Frye was running for his life in the opener. Though Frye made plays with his feet -- he was the leading rusher with 44 yards -- the Browns were less than pleased that Frye had to run that often.

WR Joe Jurevicius will miss time with a rib injury. He took a shot on his only reception, and his first reception for his hometown team. Though the Browns had not diagnosed the injury as of midday Monday, Jurevicius is expected to miss a few weeks.

FB Lawrence Vickers was a surprise choice as the team's short-yardage back. Vickers is a rookie fullback who was used a running back twice on third-and-one. He gained nothing on both plays.

WR Dennis Northcutt returns to the starting lineup with Jurevicius out. Northcutt has proven his worth as a third receiver, but he continues to drop passes and not make enough plays to justify being a starter.

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