Browns notebook: Cribbs shows kick-return skills
The only Cleveland Brown with a kick-return touchdown three years running doesn’t see the fun ending anytime soon.
“There are 100 ways to skin a cat,” Joshua Cribbs said.
Last Sunday, Cribbs skunked Sebastian Janikowski with his eyes, making the Oakland kicker look like Curly from The Three Stooges on a 99-yard burn.
The former Kent state quarterback has had three breakaway kick returns in three games. Had one not been called back because of a penalty, he’d lead the league in return average.
Instead, he ranks fourth at 35.0. Swift Baltimore rookie Yamon Figurs is atop the NFL at 38.3.
Coaches will tell you Cribbs is an excellent “team guy,” but he does see those stats out of the corner of his mischievous eyes.
“I’m gonna see a lot of squib kicks from most teams,” Cribbs said. “Very few are gonna kick it straight to me.
“If it’s a squib kick, maybe your return is only 5 yards, but it’s 5 yards to the 40.”
If the offense is clicking, as it did against Cincinnati, teams are reluctant to hand the Browns good field position on a squib kick.
“If that’s happening,” Cribbs said, “they have to say, ‘We’ve got to bone up and stop him.’”
Cribbs can’t define his own magic.
“I don’t even call myself a guy with moves,” he said. “It’s all reaction. I see a guy in front of me, my body makes him miss. It’s a reflex.”
Getting it right
Rookie Eric Wright has no illusions about his new job.
“The cardinal sin for a cornerback,” he said, “is to give up a touchdown ... or get the ball thrown over his head on third-and-inches.”
Wright was twice guilty in the Oakland game on a play that got the Browns in a 16-0 hole. On third-and-inches, he was assigned to the deep left half of the field.
“I thought I saw something,” he said. “It was an optical illusion.”
Wideout Ronald Curry ran by Wright and made an easy 41-yard touchdown catch.
Coaches watched the entire game film and decided to stick with Wright.
“We’re at Game 4, and they’re definitely expecting me to turn things around,” the second-round pick said. “More than anybody, I definitely expect things to turn around.”
The Browns hoped Kamerion Wimbley could make the jump from effective rookie to special player.
“I think there’s been some improvement, and there’s still some that needs to be made,” Wimbley said. “I could be more consistent. Overall, I feel pretty good about my play this year.”
Wimbley had 11 sacks last year and has two in 2006, both last Sunday at Oakland.
“The first was just a one on one, me and the tackle (Barry Sims),” Wimbley said. “On the second, the quarterback ran a boot, and I read it fast.”
Wimbley said he has learned this about pass rushing in the NFL: “Never give up. Never let your engine stop running. There are times the quarterback will hold the ball, times he’ll get it off fast. When he hesitates, you want to be there.”
By the numbers
- Kellen Winslow Jr. ranks second among NFL tight ends with 271 receiving yards. Antonio Gates has 297. Winslow is questionable for today’s game with a shoulder injury, but Head Coach Romeo Crennel said, “He’ll do everything he can to be in the game.”
- Joshua Cribbs ranks second in Browns history with 3,043 kickoff returns. Barring injury, he’ll soon pass Dino Hall (3,185).
- Baltimore’s Matt Stover ranks third all-time in field goal accuracy, 83.9 percent; Cleveland’s Phil Dawson, who comes from the same Dallas high school, ranks fifth at 82.1.
- Randy Moss is making headlines, averaging 18.3 yards a catch. Braylon Edwards is flying under the radar but has a better per-catch average at 18.5, best in the NFL among wideouts with at least 15 grabs.
- Crennel said Kyle Boller is a more dangerous runner than Steve McNair. “Not that McNair can’t run, but he’s working on an injury,” Crennel said. “I think that if he doesn’t have to run, he will not want to.” With McNair injured when the Browns played at Baltimore last December, Boller scrambled nine times, gaining just 12 yards. He went 23-of-32 for 223 passing yards in a 27-17 win. Anderson rallied the Browns from a 17-3 deficit to a 17-17 tie before Boller fired a 77-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Williams.
- Wideout Joe Jurevicius thinks last Sunday’s long, late drive helped the offense’s confidence grow. “We drove down the field in the last minute. We’ve learned we can do that. Now we need to close the deal,” he said.
- Jurevicius’ savvy side came out on the final play setting up the 40-yard field goal that got blocked. He looked at the clock and looked upfield before stepping out of bounds with the clock at 0:03. “There might have been a couple yards more, but you use caution,” he said. “You can’t get those seconds back.” The Browns were out of timeouts.
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com.