BEREA - There are not too many times when missing the post season could be viewed as a good thing.
However, the Browns' failure to make the playoffs last season, despite a 10-6 record, might serve them as motivation.
“Definitely, not making the playoffs hurt,” Hank Fraley said. “Being 10-6 was a good year, but not making the playoffs made it a failure, too.”
Jamal Lewis agreed.
“It is totally different than it was last year,” Lewis said. “There were a lot of people unhappy with last season and there are a lot of people working hard, pushing themselves so we are not in the position we were in last season. That is what I was really concentrating on coming into camp. Everybody came back and worked hard, I think everybody stepped it up to another level.”
Fraley thinks the Browns are hungrier this year.
“This year, we’re hungrier,” he said. “We have a great locker room. The guys are staying humble and want to play within the means of the team .”
Lewis was one of the stalwarts of the Browns resurgent offense in 2007, rushing for 1,304 yards, including nine touchdowns. Lewis has gained 9,105 yards in his first eight NFL seasons. Lewis was rewarded with a new three-year contract.
He is ready to get on with the regular season.
“Hopefully, we got a lot of things accomplished in camp that needed to get done,” Lewis said. “We got to look at a lot of the younger guys, free agents and basically, trying to put the team together.”
Lewis thinks the offense is coming on well.
“Everybody pretty much looked good,” Lewis said of the first preseason game. “We were executing a lot of plays and things of that nature, so we are looking pretty good.”
The Browns don’t want to be sitting around the final week and hoping they get into the playoffs.
“We want to get to the playoffs,” Fraley said. “We had opportunities last year and didn’t take care of business when we needed to. This year, we want to win the division and take care of things ourselves.”
Louis Waived: The Browns waived OL Cliff Louis and signed OL Jonathan Palmer. Louis was on the Browns’ practice squad last year, while Palmer was with the Eagles, Steelers, Raiders and most recently the Giants.
“We felt Jonathan had a little more experience,” head coach Romeo Crennel said.
Palmer (6-4, 336, Auburn) was recently waived by the Giants after spending last season on the active roster of the Raiders. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles and spent time on their practice squad and the Steeler’s practice squad.
Injury Update: WR Kevin Kasper (hamstring and TE Kolomona Kapanui (knee) did not practice. Rookie TE Martin Rucker had arthroscopic surgery on his knee to repair cartilage on Thursday morning. Confirming a story originally reported by Lane Adkins last Tuesday, GM Phil Savage said Rucker will miss about a month on is radio show on WTAM Thursday morning.
“Rucker had a successful scope this morning,” Crennel said. “We’ll start him rehabbing right away and try to get him back on the field.”
Rucker’s surgery was done at the Cleveland Clinic.
Who Starts: Crennel was asked who will start opposite of WR Donte Stallworth against the Giants in place of the injured WR Braylon Edwards.
“We’re not sure yet,” he said. “Maybe, we’ll know tomorrow.”
It is believed that either WR Syndric Steptoe, Steve Sanders or Travis Wilson will get the nod.
Quick Hits: QB Derek Anderson hit Steptoe on a nice slant in team drills … DL Robaire Smith shoved RB Travis Thomas on a play and Thomas went flying … TE Brad Cieslak and LB Alex Hall had a brief altercation before Crennel stepped in the middle of the two … Kellen Winslow Sr. was hired as the athletic director at Central State University. Central State is located in Wilberforce about 4 miles from Xenia. They have been an NAIA school but are planning on switching to NCAA Div. II.