BEREA - The Browns and the phrase ‘Big Game’ have not been synonymous in recent years.
That changes this week.
“Sunday at 1, we’re going to play our best game of the year,” Romeo Crennel said as a matter of fact.
The 8-5 Browns will battle the 7-6 Bills with a chance to put themselves into position to extend their season into January.
“First of all, we’re not in the playoffs but playing a game in December with meaning is important,” Steve Heiden said.”It feels like it did in 2002 when we were playing Atlanta.”
Heiden is one of the few remaining players who were on the roster the last time the Browns made the playoffs in 2002. The Browns defeated the Falcons, 24-16, in the season finale at home on Dec. 29 on their way to a 9-7 season and a wild card playoff spot.
“From an organizational standpoint, we feel good about where we’re at,” Crennel said. “However, the season is not over. We have three games to go. We’re excited to play this game and glad we’re at home. It’s better than the alternative.”
Joe Jurevicius, a native from the far east side of Cleveland, knows what a playoff appearance for the Browns would mean to Cleveland. He grew up following the Browns each week.
“I want the guys to feel the excitement of the opportunity before us,” Jurevicius said. “My job is to keep the guys focused, but then the city of Cleveland gets behind the Brownies on Sunday.”
The players were careful not to get too far ahead of themselves and talk about playoffs.
“The fans deserve this. The city deserves this ,” Jurevicius said. “We have to pay attention to details.”
However, they know the ramifications of this week’s game. A win by the Browns and a loss by the Titans and Broncos this week could clinch a playoff berth as soon as this weekend.
“It’s a big game for us,” Derek Anderson said. “Hopefully, we do what we’ve been doing at home and get the fans going early.
“It’s always nice to play at home,” Anderson said. “We feed off the fans.”
However, Browns players know they’re approach has to continue to just be one game at a time.
“We just have to worry about Buffalo,” Hank Fraley said. “They’re playing well.”
Braylon Edwards, who has a chance to pass Gary Collins this week with the most touchdowns by a receiver in Browns’ history talked about focus.
“We know we’re close and we have a shot,” Edwards said. “We’re very focused. We know what’s on the horizon.”
The Browns have been able to turn Cleveland Browns Stadium into an advantage in 2007 as they are 5-1 at home. Jamal Lewis says that 12th man does make a difference.
“The support by the fans translates on the field,” Lewis said. “We want to play hard for the fans. We owe our home record to the fans.”
Edwards hopes Sunday’s game brings an early Christmas present to Browns fans.
“I think people are excited for the game and the opportunity,” Edwards said. “There should be a buzz in the city. We have a good opportunity in front of us. We hope we can take advantage of the opportunity.”
We Hardly Knew You: The Browns signed LB Keith Adams to take the place of LB Colby Buckwoldt, who was just signed last week. Bockwoldt had two special team tackles against the Jets. They also signed C Marvin Philip and waived C Greg Eslinger, who was inactive against the Jets. Philip was on the Steelers’ practice squad before being added to the active roster for four games. TE Brad Cieslak was also added to the practice squad to replace TE Jonny Harline. Cieslak was waived by the Bills last week.
Adams (5-11, 238 lbs.) is a six-year NFL veteran and has played in 82 games, including 23 starts with the Cowboys, Eagles and Dolphins. He played in 15 games last season with the Dolphins and added six special teams tackles. His best season was in 2005 with the Eagles when he started 16 games with 101 tackles.
“Keith has a knowledge of the system we’re running and has been a productive special teams player,” Crennel said.
Philip (6-1, 307 lbs.) spent the first 10 weeks of the 2007 season on the Steelers practice squad and was listed as inactive for four other contests. He was a sixth-round draft choice from California in 2006.
Injury Update: Crennel listed several players who will not practice Wednesday. Most are expected to play Sunday, with LB Antwan Peek believed to be the most in question with a high ankle sprain. The others who will not practice beside Peek are: WR Joe Jurevicius (knee), LB Willie McGinest (hip), DL Orpheus Roye (knee), OL Kevin Shaffer (knee), Robaire Smith (back) and FB Lawrence Vickers (flu).
Crennel said he’d rather hold a player out of practice, so he can play on Sunday.
“Sometimes, you have to look at the alternative,” Crennel said. “If you practice them, they might not be able to play on Sunday. Most of these guys are veteran guys and I would rather have them ready on Sunday.”
Pro Bowl Hopefuls: OL Eric Steinbach finished leading in the fan balloting for the Pro Bowl which ended this week. The fans portion weighs one third and the results will be announced next week.
“We knew (Steinbach) was a good play and that’s why we wanted to put him on the team,” Crennel said. “We’re elated that he is on the team and the way he has played.”
Another possibility is WR Braylon Edwards, who has tied the Browns’ franchise record with 13 touchdown catches in a season. Other players being talked about as Pro Bowl hopefuls are KR Joshua Cribbs and TE Kellen Winslow.
“I feel like I’ve focused more on the little things this year,” Edwards said. “I’ve tried to watch film and get better each week.”
Edwards has 65 receptions for 1106 yards (17.0 avg.), including 13 touchdowns.
Jamal Open to One Year Deal: RB Jamal Lewis was asked if he would be open to returning to the Browns on a one-year deal.
“I will do one-year deals all day long,” he said. “I’m not concerned with next year. If it gets done, it gets done.”
Jerome Harrison Sighting: RB Jerome Harrison was active against the Jets and replaced RB Jamal Lewis for a 17-yard run, but played very little after that. Crennel said Harrison is a good change of pace back, but didn’t tip his hand that he will be more involved. He has carried the ball 15 times for 110 yards or an average of 7.3 yards per carry.
“If he’s active, he’s always a consideration.” Crennel said.
Wright Returns: Rookie CB Eric Wright was active against the Jets, but played very little. He could return to the starting spot this week against the Bills in place of Daven Holly according to Crennel.
“We’ll give him more reps in practice and if he’s ready he’ll go back to his starting spot.”
Why Carter over Wilson: Crennel was asked what WR Tim Carter brings to the offense over WR Travis Wilson, who has been inactive for most of the season and has no receptions this season.
“He has a little bit more experience and overall, more speed.”
Carter has seven receptions for 110 yards (15.7 avg.) and one touchdown on the season through 13 games, primarily as the third receiver.