The Browns are using the bye week as a time of healing. They have had a nightmarish start to the season despite beating the Bengals to snap a three-game losing streak, and injuries are a major cause to the lingering disappointment.
Early offensive problems could be traced directly to injuries on the line. Whereas starting defensive end Robaire Smith is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles heel and linebacker Antwan Peek is out for the year with a torn patellar tendon, the injuries along the offensive line have been more of a nagging variety.
Right tackle Kevin Shaffer played with a cast on his right hand against the Bengals and then left with a possible concussion. A bone on the top of his hand was broken in the opener. The cast encases the last three fingers and affected the way he blocked. If it isn't completely healed by the time the Browns return from the bye to host the Giants on Oct. 13, he at least will be able to wear a smaller cast.
Left guard Eric Steinbach missed the 28-10 loss to the Ravens with a shoulder injury. He started against the Bengals, but was less than 100 percent. Right guard Ryan Tucker missed the first four games recovering from a fractured hip. Normally the recovery process is six months, but Tucker is pressing to play the last 12 games. He'll use the time off to get better.
Donte Stallworth is a mystery of a different sort. He pulled a quadriceps warming up before the season opener and missed the first three games. He finally returned to practice on the Wednesday before the Cincinnati game but by that Friday was on the shelf again. He should be ready by the Giants game, but no one expected him to miss the first four games.
"The bottom line is that we have the guys that we have," offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. "It's my job to put those guys in the best position to win games no matter who that is."
Starting strong safety Sean Jones hopes to be back after missing three games following arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 11 and linebacker Willie McGinest hopes to be back after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury.
"I feel our division has the toughest schedule in football," middle linebacker Andra Davis said. "We play some really good teams. It's going to be wide open. It's going to go to the end, I believe."
Quarterback Derek Anderson and running back Jamal Lewis have had to bare the load because of the injuries. Anderson was in danger of losing his starting job, but he completed 11 of 14 passes in the second half against the Bengals and engineered two touchdown drives in a 20-12 victory.
Lewis complained about not getting the ball enough in the loss in Baltimore. He carried 25 times for 79 yards against the Bengals. In all, the Browns had 40 carries. They had 58 carries in the first three games combined.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We feel relieved we did win and it was a divisional game, but we know the road is a long hard one and we have to get better, a lot better." -- Coach Romeo Crennel, after the Browns' first victory.
UNDER THE RADAR: Fans have been clamoring for Jerome Harrison to get more opportunities. He was on the field a total of six snaps in the first three games. He carried four times for 20 yards against the Bengals and caught one pass for five yards.
--WR Braylon Edwards caught his first touchdown pass of the season. He caught 16 last year.
--S Mike Adams intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
--KR Josh Cribbs returned the third-quarter kickoff 44 yards to the Bengals 48. It was his longest return this season.
--CB Eric Wright intercepted a pass and then fumbled.
--CB Terry Cousin intercepted a pass with four seconds left to ice the game.