BEREA — Rookie cornerback Eric Wright has given up four touchdowns in three games, but coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham stood firm in his corner this week.
“Eric improves every day in practice and as a rookie you’re going to get a lot more challenges on Sunday than the other guy,” Grantham said. “He has the mind-set that he wants to make plays. That mind-set has probably hurt him a little bit because when you’re an aggressive guy and you want to make plays, sometimes you have to make sure you do your job and not try and do something else.
“It’s just a matter of him settling down.”
Wright’s latest gaffe was a 41-yard touchdown pass to Oakland’s Ronald Curry on Sunday, as Wright bit on a play-fake and let Curry run free behind him. Crennel said Wright will keep his starting job Sunday vs. the Ravens.
“It means a lot,” Wright said. “I gave up some plays, really things uncharacteristic of the type of player I am. Guys stuck with me and told me to hang in there. They know what type of player I am, what type of player I can be.”
Wright called the touchdown to Curry an “optical illusion.” He was sure he had seen a handoff.
“The cardinal sin for a cornerback is to give up a touchdown or get the ball thrown over his head. I didn’t play pass first. I ran up and just made a bad judgment call.”
Despite the shaky start, Wright, a second-round pick out of UNLV, insists he hasn’t been shaken.
“I have more confidence in my ability to get things right, get things fixed,” he said. “That’s what makes me as confident as I am. Because I know if there are some valleys, I’m going to reach a peak a lot faster than other guys.”
Grantham tried to remain upbeat when discussing his 31st-ranked defense that has struggled in three straight games.
“I am excited because I do think they play hard and they try to do things the right way,” he said. “The big thing is we have to quit giving up explosive plays. The No. 1 thing is you have to be hard to score on. When you go back and you look at the majority of the scoring drives that we’ve had, there’s an explosive play involved in it.”
Grantham defines an explosive play as a run of more than 15 yards and a pass of more than 25. He said the big runs are a product of seams in the defense that the Browns can’t close.
“It can be an issue of a one-on-one battle. It can be an issue of an assignment thing. It can be your ability to close on the ball,” Grantham said. “Really, all of those things have factored into us giving up those plays.”
Grantham disagreed with the theory that losing safety Brian Russell in free agency has led to the increase in deep completions. Brodney Pool and Sean Jones aren’t as experienced as Russell.
“With those guys, they have the ability to make a play on the ball,” Grantham said. “As we move forward, they’ll be fine.”
All of the Browns on the injury report were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game after being limited in practice Friday. That means outside linebacker Willie McGinest could see his first action since back surgery in the preseason.
“I’m excited with getting him back out there,” Grantham said. “He’s a vocal guy. He has a presence out there that I like. He’s got some size and stoutness. I think he’ll help us in all phases.”
Punter Dave Zastudil (back), receiver Tim Carter (knee), safety Gary Baxter (knees), linebacker Antwan Peek (foot), defensive end Orpheus Roye (knee) and tight end Kellen Winslow were on the injury report. Peek and Roye said they expect to play.
With Carter questionable, Travis Wilson could be active for the first time this season. The third-round pick in 2006 would split time will Joshua Cribbs as the third receiver.
“Knowing Josh’s contributions on special teams and what he has to do there, sometimes we need to give him a break,” Crennel said. “Then Wilson takes it. If Josh is OK to go, then Josh will take it.”
Not only does Cribbs return punts and kickoffs, he’s on punt and kickoff coverage.
Wilson’s eager to just wear a uniform on a Sunday.
“It kills me,” he said of being inactive. “I can’t explain it, even if I had an hour to say how it felt on the inside.”
Ivy out of league?
With veteran Samari Rolle out with an undisclosed illness, Corey Ivy
(5-foot-9, 188 pounds) will get the start at cornerback for the Ravens, his eighth in six-plus years. He’ll be assigned to cover Joe Jurevicius (6-5, 232), with Chris McAlister on Braylon Edwards.
The Browns will certainly try to exploit Ivy, and Crennel expects single coverage.
“They feel confident in what they’re able to do and in their system,” Crennel said. “Whoever they put out there, they expect them to produce. They are able to produce for the most part, because they’re able to generate some pass rush, which helps them at the back end.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.