BEREA - It’s a well-known fact the Browns haven’t sent anyone to the Pro Bowl since 2001 when Jamir Miller was the Browns’ last representative. In fact, he’s the only Pro Bowl player the Browns have had since they returned in 1999.
There is a good chance that streak will be broken soon—maybe even this year as kick/punt returner Joshua Cribbs is having a terrific year.
The Browns have other players on the roster who might be future Pro Bowl candidates namely in Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach and Kamerion Wimbley.
But Cribbs might be the closest to Honolulu.
Currently, Cribbs leads the NFL in return yards with 1,230 and is second in the NFL with a 32.4 average. He has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and nearly a third. He returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score last Sunday, and also returned a kick 90 yards to set up another score. Only Leon Washington from the Jets has a higher average at 33.5.
“He’s gotten to the point where the opponent is concerned about him and they’re not wanting to kick it to him,” Romeo Crennel said. “He’s helping the team that way and when they kick it to him, he’s making plays that help the team.”
Crennel thinks Cribbs has an innate ability to find the seam.
“Josh has the ability to make that first wave miss and then he has the ability to kick it to another level and go from there.”
He has returned 12 punts for 118 yards with a long of 22 yards. His 9.8 average is currently sixth in the AFC and 11th in the NFL.
The third year, 6-1, 215 pound product of Kent State entered the season with 106 career kickoff returns for 2,588 yards (24.4 avg.) including two touchdowns. He had only returned six punts prior to this season for 91 yards and an 8.5 average.
Cribbs is the Browns’ all-time leader in kickoff return yardage in just his third season. He is already the first player in team history to have a kickoff return for a touchdown in three straight seasons
He also has been a big force on coverage teams as he leads the Browns in special team’s tackles with 12.
Crennel has seen Cribbs grow in his time with the Browns.
“He has matured and made better decisions as he’s gotten more experience,” Crennel said. “He’s a good kickoff returner and has given us good field position.”
More and more teams are not kicking to Cribbs, rather kicking short to the up man. Crennel said that doesn’t really matter.
“You really can’t counter it,” he said. “However, you usually get pretty good field position when they kick it short. If you can get the ball to the 35 or 40-yard line, you have pretty good field postion.”
Ready for Kyle: It appears that QB Kyle Boller will replace Steve McNair in the Ravens’ starting lineup. At least, Crennel is preparing for him.
“He has a big, strong arm and I think we’ll see him,” he said. “He gives them the ability to stretch the ball down the field.”
The Ravens have been struggling on offense and rumors persist that Boller will play against the Browns.
Braylon Speaks: WR Braylon Edwards explained why he chose not to speak to the media after the Steelers game.
“I chose not to speak because I didn’t want to say something I shouldn’t have,” he said. “It was a hard fought battle and now it’s behind us. Our focus is on Baltimore.”
Injury Update: Crennel said that LB D’qwell Jackson (ankle), LB Willie McGinest (hamstring) and LB Antwan Peek (knee) will not practice on Wednesday. DB Leigh Bodden (back) will be limited in practice, but everyone else will practice.
Browns Sign O-Lineman: The Browns replaced OL Seth McKinney by signing OL Greg Eslinger to take his roster spot. Eslinger (6-3, 290) was signed off the Broncos’ practice squad. He was originally drafted by the Broncos in the sixth-round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
“He was a productive player at Minnesota,” Crennel said. “We think he can add some depth for us on the offensive line and take Seth McKinney’s place.”
Eslinger was a first team All Big 10 selection in his final three seasons at Minnesota, starting all 50 games in which he played. He was one of the most decorated players in Minnesota history as he received the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy for being the nations’ top center in 2005.