BEREA – James Farrior has played linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers for six seasons, but has only lost to the Browns one time.
It`s understandable, then, why he doesn`t believe the Turnpike Series is as relevant as it once was.
“When you have a rivalry, you go back and forth. This has been kind of one-sided for the last few games,“ Farrior said Wednesday in a conference call. “They are going to have to start picking it up or we`re going to have to stop calling it a rivalry.“
The next installment in the series comes Sunday when Cleveland (5-3) travels to Pittsburgh (6-2) in a battle for first place in the AFC North.
With a victory, or even a close loss, the Browns could stop what has become an annual Steelers slaughter. Pittsburgh has won eight straight games, 14 of the last 15, and 21 of the last 24 – allowing it to take its first-ever series lead at 56-55.
“It is a rivalry because both teams know each other so well,“ insisted Cleveland defensive end Orpheus Roye, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers. “We play twice every year and follow what the other team does all the time.
“We don`t have to have a magic formula, we`ve just got to find a way to win there.“
Though Farrior downplayed the rivalry aspect of the game, he made it clear there are some hard feelings among the current players.
Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow delivered a very late hit on Farrior during the Browns` 27-7 loss at Heinz Field last Dec. 7, earning a personal foul and widespread criticism for his actions.
When the play was brought up Wednesday, Farrior firstÂ laughed it off, but then referred to it as a “cheap shot“ and a “little dirty hit.“
He also warned Winslow that “he better have his head on a swivel every time we go up against those guys because I`ll be looking for him.“
“We take them serious every year. It doesn`t change, no matter what the records are,“ Farrior added. “There`s a lot of bad blood between us and Cleveland.“
Starting right guard Seth McKinney remains sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered Sunday in the Browns` 33-30 overtime win over Seattle. In his absence, Ryan Tucker and Lennie Friedman are practicing at the spot. Tucker, who worked with the first-team offense Wednesday, last saw action at guard in 1998 with the Rams, while Friedman filled in for McKinney against the Seahawks.
“I thought things went pretty well,“ Friedman said of his performance. “We won the game, which is the most important thing.“
Although signs point to McKinney not playing this week, no official word is expected until Friday.
BUMPS AND BRUISES
Browns linebackers D`Qwell Jackson (ankle) and Willie McGinest (personal reasons) sat out practice, while guard Eric Steinbach (back) and cornerback Leigh Bodden (back) were limited. Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. (shoulder, knees), linebacker Kris Griffin (Achilles) and tight end Darnell Dinkins (hand) were full-go.
* Center LeCharles Bentley was placed on the season-ending physically unable to perform list, but coach Romeo Crennel has not given up hope.
“He`ll continue to rehab and try to get better to give him a chance to get on the field with us next year,“ Crennel said.
THE GOLDEN FLASH
Steelers linebacker James Harrison – a Kent State product – had a huge game Monday against Baltimore with nine tackles, 31/2 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. Suffice to say, the Browns took notice of his dominant showing.
“I hope that they lock him up and throw away the key, so that he doesn`t come out on Sunday,“ Crennel joked.
BIG BEN UPDATE
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who briefly left the win over the Ravens with a hip injury, did not practice Wednesday at Pittsburgh`s South Side training facility.
Also sitting out were standout running back Willie Parker (knee), safety Ryan Clark (spleen), linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (calf), running back Gary Russell (personal reasons) and tight end Jerame Tuman (back).
Team officials reported 20 arrests and 29 ejections at Cleveland Browns Stadium for the Seahawks game, continuing a season-long trend of improved fan behavior.
Previous home games saw the following number of arrests/ejections: Steelers (88/20), Bengals (46/13), Ravens (20/11) and Dolphins (27/11).
Rookie tackle Joe Thomas was named to Pro Football Weekly`s midseason All-Pro team. He was the only Browns player to be named to the list.
* Pittsburgh`s roster includes at least one of its draft picks from every year dating back to 1998.
* CBS is sending its top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to the Browns/Steelers game, which will be shown to the majority of the nation.
* Legendary Steel City station KDKA-TV 2 sent a multiple-person crew to Berea to conduct player interviews.