BEREA — New England’s offense gets all the headlines and magazine covers. That’s what happens with Tom Brady at quarterback and Randy Moss at receiver.
But the defense shouldn’t be ignored.
It ranks first in the NFL in yardage allowed at 207 a game. It’s third versus the run (74) and fourth versus the pass (133). The Patriots have allowed just 48 points in four games, which ranks fourth.
“They play sound. A lot of guys are very disciplined,” receiver Braylon Edwards said. “They’re not full of just Pro Bowl athletes. The guys know their roles, play their role, don’t make mistakes and they communicate well. They all sacrifice individually for the greater good of the defense.”
Quarterback Derek Anderson will be chiefly responsible for keeping up with New England’s offense, which is averaging 37 points per game.
“They make a lot of plays, so I just have to be smart this week,” he said of the Patriot defense. “I have to be patient and take what they’re giving us early on. We have to get the running game going, be efficient with the passing game and we’ll be all right.”
The Browns will visit the Patriots (4-0) on Sunday.
Pain will remain
Tight end Kellen Winslow didn’t talk to reporters Wednesday except to say he’s “all right.” Crennel said Winslow’s partially dislocated left shoulder will continue to be a problem.
“It’s something he’s going to have to deal with all year,” Crennel said.
Winslow hurt the shoulder at the end of the Oakland game, but toughed it out to catch four passes for 96 yards Sunday vs. the Ravens. He was limited in practice Wednesday to avoid contact.
“I’m impressed by his competitiveness, and that allows him to be tough,” said Crennel, who added the bye in two weeks should allow Winslow to strengthen the shoulder. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep him out there.”
Kick returner Joshua Cribbs was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September. He leads the NFL with 549 kickoff return yards and a 34.3 kickoff return average. He has one touchdown.
He has also handled punt return duties with three returns for 33 yards and ranks second on the team with six special teams tackles.
Tim Couch was the last Brown to win a monthly NFL award, earning top rookie in October 1999.
The Browns got some good news when outside linebackers Willie McGinest and Antwan Peek and punter Dave Zastudil went through full practices. McGinest made it through his first game Sunday following back surgery, and Peek’s strained foot has improved.
Zastudil has missed three games, including the last two, with an injured side. He was downgraded from questionable to out Saturday before the Ravens game.
Guard Eric Steinbach had limited contact Wednesday but said he’s fine after suffering a stinger Sunday. Defensive end Orpheus Roye (knee) was limited.
For the Patriots, center Dan Koppen (ankle) didn’t practice.
Ryan Tucker returned to practice for the first time since serving a four-game steroid suspension. The Browns have until Monday to activate or release him.
“He’s excited to be back in the building,” Crennel said. “Physically he looks OK and he says all the right things. We’ll see where his conditioning is and go from there.”
Crennel was asked if the Patriots’ videotape cheating scandal diminishes the three Super Bowl wins he earned as defensive coordinator.
“If I had ’em to wear, I’d still wear ’em,” Crennel said of the rings, which he doesn’t keep with him. “It doesn’t diminish them one bit to me.”
• Receiver Braylon Edwards is one of 10 candidates for best-dressed NFL player in a vote on SI.com. In the photo gallery Edwards is wearing a dark coat under a bridge.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.