NEWS

Browns searching for orange October

Steve Doerschuk

It’s huge. It’s elegant. It’s the Madden Cruiser without the cheesy ads tattooed to its broad-as-a-barn sides.

It’s the Monday Night Football bus, and it was parked at the Browns front door Saturday, spilling its crew onto the Browns offices and practice fields.

It’s one of those vehicles that cost more than the gross national product of Guatemala. It looks a lot better than the Browns have looked in going 1-3.

From the sound of things in the locker room, though, the Browns are ready to shine in the bright lights. However implausible, given the danger of getting their helmets handed to them by the Giants, the season of dreams lives between their earholes.

“We expect to be a good football team,” Pro Bowler Joshua Cribbs said. “We expect to be in the thick of things come time for postseason.

“We expect to be one of the teams looked at for more Monday night games next year. More publicity ... more everything.”

Center Hank Fraley, an offensive captain, is likewise optimistic about the search for orange October, or whatever the Browns’ quest can be called.

“Just because things don’t start out the way you envision doesn’t mean you abandon anything,” Fraley said. “Our expectations are still to win this division, so we just have to start one game at a time.”

Linebacker Willie McGinest, a defensive captain from the Parcells-Belichick school, declined to talk about his expectations for the season. What about Monday night?

“We expect to play good, sound, disciplined football,” he said. “We expect to play a physical game for 60 minutes.”

Shaun Rogers, who has become the Browns’ best defensive player, is a little jaded as to expectations. He was on Detroit teams that went 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, 6-10, 5-11, 3-13 and 7-9.

Maybe it says something that the Lions are 0-4 without him. What does he expect the Browns to do off their 1-3 start?

“Try to win games,” he said, for some reason with a big laugh. “I believe we have the talent to win games.”

His expectations for the Giants game?

“I would hope we play well,” he said. “We had an extra week to prepare. I hope we go out there and execute and play to our abilities.”

Unlike the veteran newcomer Rogers, fullback Lawrence Vickers is one of the young starters who helped the Browns develop into a 10-6 team filled with hope.

“What are we thinkin’ now?” Vickers said after pulling on his practice jersey Saturday. “I think we’re still thinkin’ the same thing.

“I don’t see how the landscape has changed. Who lives in the past? What’s done is done.

“I can’t change those losses. But I can sure help change these wins we’re about to get.”

Safety Brodney Pool is tied to a Browns regime on the hot seat. He was drafted in Romeo Crennel’s first year as head coach. He is one of the players who was supposed to be peaking about now. His expectations?

“Bottom line, just win,” he said. “We definitely have the right core guys to do it. All we’ve got to do is just start playing as a team. We started to do that at Cincinnati.”

That was Cincinnati. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 18 years. The Browns are about to face a Giants team off to a 4-0 start on the heels of a 4-0 postseason.

“Some of the expectations are down, and people don’t have any hope,” wideout Braylon Edwards said. “That puts us back where we were last year, as the underdog.”

The Browns looked like sick dogs, even for much of the Bengals game. Cribbs thinks their fourth-quarter rally still means something.

“Our medication was the win at Cincinnati,” he said. “It gave us a chance to say, ‘We can do this.’

“Now the fun is back in our locker room, back on the team, on the field. It’s gonna carry over into the game.”

WINSLOW WATCH

Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. remained in the Cleveland Clinic Saturday for a third day. He was being treated for an illness the Browns have declined to explain.

Through the first two days of his hospital stay, he was still listed as questionable for the Giants game, ostensibly indicating a 50-50 chance he still might play.

Winslow is off to a slow start, although he made a season-best 20-yard catch at Cincinnati. In that game, he caught four other passes for 34 yards

The Repository