BEREA — Ryan Tucker thinks he’s found a new home at guard.
“I love it. I’d rather play guard than tackle right now,” he said Thursday. “It fits my personality a little more. I’m a physical player. It works out better for me.”
Tucker played some guard early in his 11-year career, but had been at tackle since 1999. He moved to right guard in Week 10 when Seth McKinney was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Tucker received a game ball for his play Sunday in a 24-18 win over the Jets.
“He got a game ball because he played well and I thought he deserved it,” coach Romeo Crennel said.
“If I get it, the other guys on the offensive line pretty much deserve it as well,” Tucker said. “I can’t do anything without the guys next to me.
“I don’t want to get too high or too low — steady Eddie. It was nice, it was great. But tomorrow, if you screw up, it doesn’t matter.”
The Browns have run for more than 100 yards in three of five games with Tucker at guard, including 152 yardS against the Jets. Tucker
(6-foot-6, 320 pounds) adds a physical dimension and teams with Eric Steinbach to form a guard tandem much better than last year’s aging and banged-up duo of Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman.
“The whole line is an upgrade overall and everybody has been able to stay healthy,” Crennel said. “We’re a little younger than we had been in the past at that position. All of that helps.”
On the mend
McKinney, who’s on injured reserve, had surgery four weeks ago to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder suffered Nov. 4 against Seattle.
“It’s tough for me personally,” he said. “But the recovery’s going well and I’m right on track.”
McKinney, 28, signed a one-year deal in the offseason and started eight games at right guard. He missed all of 2006 after neck surgery, but said he’s committed to playing again next year. He hopes it’s with the Browns.
“I’d love to be back,” he said. “I like it here.”
McKinney can play guard and center.
Kicker Phil Dawson set a career high for points in a season when he made a
49-yard field goal Sunday. He had six points on the day to give him 104. His previous best was 100 in 2002, ’04 and ’05.
He is the only Brown to reach 100 points in four years. Running back Jim Brown did it three times.
“He’s one of the better kickers in the NFL when you’re talking about accuracy,” Crennel said. “Over the years having to kick in the Cleveland elements, particularly late in the season, he’s done a good job with that. I think there are a lot of teams that would like to have his production.”
Dawson, who moved into third place on the Browns’ all-time scoring list earlier this season, needs 12 points to pass Hall of Famer Lou Groza (115 points in 1964) for most points in a season by a Browns kicker and 23 points to surpass Brown and set a franchise record for points in a season (126 in 1965).
The RAC Report
In light of baseball’s Mitchell Report, Crennel was asked about the NFL’s handling of steroids.
“Our testing program started earlier,” he said. “We kind of knew what we needed to look for. We told the players that they are responsible for what goes into their body. Knock on wood, it’s been pretty good so far.
“Hopefully we’ll continue to be good and the players will understand that they are responsible for what goes in their bodies. Getting an early jump on it always helps. It started with the drug testing and then it went to steroids. I think that whole process being in place and getting it tweaked from year to year has helped considerably.”
Crennel said baseball is doing the right thing trying to clean up the sport.
“It makes it more appealing to the fans and it makes it a better sport overall,” he said.
Receiver Joe Jurevicius (knee) and linebacker Antwan Peek (knee) didn’t practice again Thursday. Linebacker Willie McGinest (hip), defensive ends Orpheus Roye (knee) and Robaire Smith (back) and right tackle Kevin Shaffer (knee) returned to practice and were limited. Fullback Lawrence Vickers (flu) practiced and was taken off the injury list.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or email@example.com.