Berea—To the casual Browns fan, the signing of Donte Stallworth as an unrestricted free agent might have seemed strange at the time.
Given Joe Jurevicius and Braylon Edwards were seemingly well-entrenched as starters and the Browns were looking for an upgrade as a third receiver over Tim Carter.
Donte Stallworth was a major upgrade for the third receiver spot.
However, behind the scenes, Jurevicius had asked to move to the third receiver spot and then he started the knee surgery setbacks. The latest is the minor injury suffered by Edwards—ironically, as Stallworth stepped on Edwards' foot with his cleats after Edwards had taken his shoes off.
At least for now, Stallworth is the team's No. 1 receiver.
The seven-year veteran caught 46 passes for 697 yards, including three touchdowns in New England's high-octane offense last season. In his career, Stallworth has 279 receptions for 4,213 yards, including 31 touchdowns. His best season was in 2005 when he caught 70 passes for 945 yards, including seven touchdowns with the Saints.
Stallworth didn't want to place any comparisons between the Patriots' offense and the Browns—at least yet.
"The guys I played with last year were a lot more experienced," he said. "Here, we're trying to work together, but it's only the second year in this offense."
Crennel has been pleased with the leadership and play of Stallworth.
"Donte is a professional," Romeo Crennel said. "He works hard at his trade. It's his job and he takes it seriously.
"He's professional in the way he helps young guys."
It's been well documented the chemistry that Edwards and Derek Anderson had last year as the pair went to the Pro Bowl. Anderson connected with Edwards for 16 of his 29 touchdown passes in 2007.
Stallworth said he and Anderson are trying to also get their timing down.
"I've been working with Derek since the end of March and our chemistry is coming along pretty well," Stallworth said. "We're trying to learn each other and get on the same page.
"Everything is gelling and on schedule," he said. "We're just trying to get better."
Stallworth said Edwards will be back soon.
"I talked to him," Stallworth said. "He's good."
Crennel thinks Edwards and Stallworth will be a good duo.
"He and Braylon are friends," Crennel said. "He will benefit Braylon. The other guy pulls the other along. Everybody needs somebody as a mentor for encouragement."
Stallworth said the younger guys have stepped up in Edwards' absence.
"It gives the younger guys some extra reps and an opportunity to see what they can do," Stallworth said. "Everybody's job is to step-up. A lot of young guys are doing special work. Things are going well, so far."
One of the younger guys taking off his opportunity is Steve Sanders.
"I try to be the hardest worker on the field, no matter what," Sanders said.
Travis Wilson and Syndric Steptoe are others who have been in the mix with Edwards, Jurevicius and Kevin Kasper on the sidelines.
Injury Update: DL Shaun Rogers (knee) did not practice, nor did rookie TE Martin Rucker (knee).
"Shaun's knee was a little sore, so we gave him the morning off," Crennel said. "He might be back out there this afternoon."
Crennel said that Rucker had a twisted knee and they'll do an MRI for precautionary reasons.
Crennel mentioned that LB Antwan Peek is making good progress after removing cartilage in his knee. He also said that LB Beau Bell is making good progress from his arthroscopic surgery.
Ben's the Man: Pro golfer Ben Curtis attended practice Tuesday morning after just missing out on winning the PGA championship in Michigan last weekend. He's a good friend of QB Derek Anderson and is a big Browns fan. He played collegiately at Kent State and won the British Open a few years back.
"I've gotten to know Derek ," Curtis said. "He's a pretty good golfer. I have high hopes for the Browns this year."
Crennel was asked about Curtis.
"I know he's a pretty good golfter," Crennel said. "Maybe, he can help my game."
Phil Delivers: K Phil Dawson was put under more pressure than usual when he was asked to make a field goal to determine if the team would have to run sprints after practice and have a meeting on Wednesday night.
"We had a little wager," Crennel said. "Phil made a good kick."
"My legs were shaking," Dawson said. "I had made seven in a row, but they wanted me to make another one. It was 54-yards and into the wind."