BEREA — Want a sign the Browns are a different team this year? For the fourth time this year, coach Romeo Crennel warned his players not to get big heads.
“We won back-to-back games and we feel good about it,” Crennel said. “But that doesn’t get us anywhere. We’re not saying, by any stretch of the imagination, that we’ve arrived. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Browns, who went 10-22 in Crennel’s first two years, are 4-3 and above .500 for the first time under Crennel following a 27-20 win over the St. Louis Rams (0-8). He knows how success can affect players.
“Some of them think they’ve arrived and that they’ve done enough. But they haven’t done enough,” Crennel said.
The first back-to-back wins since October 2003 came against Miami and St. Louis, who are 0-16 combined. Seattle, which will visit Sunday, is 4-3 and has been to the playoffs four straight years.
“I think this week will be one of those weeks where they will be more intent on listening because they know the Seattle team is a pretty good team coming in,” Crennel said of his players.
Throughout the 4-3 run, Crennel continued to remind everyone the Browns haven’t accomplished anything yet.
“They are a work in progress. As long as we keep working, we’ll continue to progress,” he said. “This team is still growing and maturing. They surprise you every Sunday with what happens. When you go out there you really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Crennel was asked when he’ll know the team has arrived. After a long chuckle, he answered: “At the end of the regular season, if we have a winning record and can make the playoffs, then you can say those guys have arrived,” he said.
Having a ball
Crennel awarded game balls to lineman Shaun Smith and linebacker Willie McGinest on defense, tight end Steve Heiden and receiver Joe Jurevicius on offense and Mike Adams on special teams.
“Shaun Smith was probably the most productive that he’s been,” Crennel said. “Willie McGinest was pretty solid, particularly against the run and in his pass drops.”
Smith was credited with five tackles and a pass breakup after the coaches’ film review. McGinest had five tackles, including one for a loss, and three pass breakups.
“On offense, we know that Braylon (Edwards) made outstanding plays and (Derek) Anderson made outstanding plays, but I’m not giving them game balls,” Crennel said. “Heiden did a tremendous job blocking and being consistent. Jurevicius made a lot of third-down catches and is consistent as well.
“Those guys will get the game ball, but Anderson and Braylon get recognition for their contribution to the win.”
Adams had three special teams tackles.
Crennel confirmed that linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has an ankle sprain and special teamer Kris Griffin has an Achilles’ tendon strain. Both left in the first quarter and didn’t return, and Crennel wouldn’t predict when either will be able to play.
“I know both of those players will do everything they can to get back on the field,” he said. “They’ll be back on the field when they’re ready to go. When that’s going to be, I have no idea. If they’re not ready on Wednesday, then we’ll see if they’re ready on Thursday and take it day-by-day.”
Jackson leads the team with 60 tackles, and Griffin leads with 11 special teams tackles.
Crennel gave the team Monday off as a reward for winning, which is a common practice in the NFL. His charity didn’t include the rookies, who had to attend a morning meeting.
“They didn’t appreciate that too much, but that’s part of being a rookie,” he said. “The veterans, they get a chance to rest a little bit more.”
Nose tackle Ted Washington was inactive for the second time in three games, but Crennel said the 39-year-old has taken it in stride.
“Ted has never come to me and asked to be released,” he said. “Ted is a professional. I told him depending on what the game plan is, he might be inactive. Ted understands that. He was on the sideline cheering and trying to help those guys. He’ll continue to do that.”
“I was trying to encourage him after that one. I knew he was down and disappointed for taking the helmet off and getting the penalty, so I was trying to lift his spirits up,” —Crennel, who was shown laughing as he talked to Edwards after the celebration penalty.
l “The biggest thing that changed about myself and Kellen (Winslow) is that we could care less about individual stats. Everything that we do now is for the game and the team. If I tie my career high, whoop-de-do. We got the win.” — Edwards, who tied a career high with eight catches.
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