BEREA — Offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley and safety Gary Baxter still aren’t ready to contribute following devastating knee injuries, but the Browns are holding out hope that they will be available at some point this season.
Bentley, who had four surgeries after tearing a patellar tendon in training camp last year and developing a staph infection, became eligible Monday to come off the physically unable to perform list and start practicing.
He has a three-week window to begin practicing, and three weeks after his return to be activated or placed on injured reserve. He has been working out on his own with trainers.
“He’s been making some progress,” coach Romeo Crennel said Monday. “I don’t think we’re going to get him started yet.”
Baxter tore both patellar tendons last October and is trying an unprecedented comeback. He’s been practicing with the team for more than two months but has yet to be active for a game. Crennel said he’s been working with the scout team.
“He’s not quite ready yet, but when he gets ready we’ll put him with the defense,” Crennel said. “He’s been making progress. We just have to keep working with him and getting him confident in what he’s able to do.”
Crennel said “at this time” it’s worth using a roster spot on Baxter.
As Derek Anderson continues to exceed expectations, rookie Brady Quinn remains glued to the sideline awaiting his first regular-season action.
“I’m a team player. I’m not one of those guys who thinks that this won’t be good for me,” Quinn said. “It’s all a learning experience. I’m the second-string guy. That’s my job right now. I just have to be ready if anything happens to D.A.”
Quinn has always expressed confidence in his ability to play right away, and six weeks holding a clipboard hasn’t changed that.
“I’ve always felt comfortable with the offense, always felt comfortable going in and playing,” he said. “It’s just a matter of you don’t get as many reps as the No. 2 as you would as the No. 1.”
Despite Anderson’s solid play, Crennel wouldn’t rule out playing Quinn at some point.
“Brady is one play away because he’s the second guy,” he said. “It could be an injury or it could be anything else. It could be my decision on what is going on in the game and what I think needs to happen. But that’s the case with any No. 2 quarterback.”
Crennel said running back Jamal Lewis will continue to receive treatment on his strained foot during the bye week after sitting out Sunday.
“We think we’ll have Jamal back and he’ll be back by the next game,” he said.
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and reserve cornerback Kenny Wright turned ankles Sunday but returned to the game. Crennel said they should be OK.
Punter Dave Zastudil struggled in his first game action since aggravating a back injury in Week 2. He averaged 34.5 yards on two punts, with a long of 37.
“The back’s fine,” he said. “I felt good in practice all week.
“They just came off my foot bad. I’m kind of embarrassed by my performance. I have two weeks to figure it out. That’s not me.”
Crennel said he will likely continue a rotation at right tackle between Kevin Shaffer and Ryan Tucker, who returned two weeks ago after a steroid suspension. Shaffer started Sunday, but Tucker played two drives in the second quarter and two scoring drives in the second half. He recovered a Kellen Winslow fumble.
“Those guys are good players and the rotation has worked decently, so far,” Crennel said. “If it doesn’t hurt us, then maybe we’ll consider it as something to do. But if it hurts us, then we’ll stop doing it.”
Crennel said he’s reluctant to try Tucker at right guard, where Seth McKinney has started six games.
“Right now those guys we have inside, they are working pretty well together,” he said. “(McKinney) gives good effort. He doesn’t have many mental screw-ups or anything like that. He’s been pretty effective so far.”
Crennel said the Browns didn’t try to onside kick in the fourth quarter Sunday.
“No, that was a kick we kind of flubbed a bit.”
Crennel said defensive end Shaun Smith will remain the starter ahead of Orpheus Roye until Roye’s knee is feeling better.
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Bentley, Baxter might return to field this year