BEREA — As offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski walked out of the locker room Sunday night, he had already turned the page from the overtime win over the Seahawks.
“It’s Steeler Week,” he said.
That hasn’t been good news for the Browns.
They are 0-5 vs. the Steelers under coach Romeo Crennel. They haven’t beaten Pittsburgh since October 2003. They’ve lost 14 of the last 15 meetings with their archrival.
“It might be a hurdle some people have to overcome, but they put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do,” Crennel said. “We’re going to play a good game. It’s going to be a good game. I don’t believe it’s going to be a mental block.”
The Browns opened the season at home vs. Pittsburgh and lost 34-7. Crennel is convinced his team is better prepared to compete this time.
“This is a different team than the team that played them the first game of the season,” he said. “I think you’ll get a better evaluation of where this team is.”
Quarterback is the biggest change since the opener, as Derek Anderson replaced Charlie Frye and has gone 5-2 as a starter.
“We’ve improved in a lot of areas,” receiver Braylon Edwards said Sunday. “I know they will be seeing a much, much different team than they saw before. With that said, they’re still a great ballclub in their own right.”
The Steelers were 5-2 before playing Baltimore (4-3) on Monday night. No matter the outcome, the Browns (5-3) will be playing for at least a share of first place in the AFC North on Sunday in Heinz Field.
“It’s good to be in that position, to be playing for first,” Crennel said. “But still, there are eight games to go. If we can win this one, we’ll get our head a little bit further above water and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Right guard Seth McKinney left the game Sunday with a shoulder injury, and Crennel said he’ll be further evaluated this week. Lennie Friedman filled in Sunday and would be the likely replacement vs. the Steelers.
“Lennie did a nice job while he was in there,” Crennel said.
Ryan Tucker, who’s rotating with Kevin Shaffer at right tackle, played some guard in the preseason.
“We have to see where McKinney is and what his situation is,” Crennel said. “Right now, Lennie is the guy who’s been the backup. If we need Tucker to play guard, he’ll play guard.”
The Browns are using every hour available to decide what to do with offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley.
They have until this afternoon to return Bentley to practice. If they do, he can practice for three weeks before having to be put on the active roster. If the Browns leave him on the physically unable to perform list, he will miss his second straight season.
“We’ll wait ’til (today),” Crennel said.
Bentley tore his patellar tendon in training camp in 2006 and developed a staph infection. He’s had multiple surgeries and hasn’t practiced with the team since.
OK with OT
When the Browns lost the coin toss in overtime, there was the possibility that they’d never see the ball. Despite that, Crennel is fine with the NFL’s overtime rule.
“I kind of like it the way it is,” he said.
The first team to score wins in the NFL, and in college each team gets a possession from the opponent’s 25-yard line. Since 1974, the team that wins the flip has won 53 percent of overtime games.
“You kind of take the kicking game out of it other than the extra-point or the field-goal try,” Crennel said of the college rules. “Kickoff coverage and kickoff return is a major part of the game.”
Crennel gave the players Monday off for the second straight week. They always have Tuesdays off. “At this point of the season, I think the time off benefits them physically and mentally,” he said. “When they come back they can focus on the job at hand and they’ll give a good effort as a result of it.”
• Game balls were awarded to tight end Kellen Winslow, safety Sean Jones and special teamer Brandon McDonald, a rookie who had two tackles.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.