BEREA — Browns defensive lineman Shaun Smith can talk with the best of them, so he wasn’t about to stand by quietly when friend and former teammate Carson Palmer took a shot at him this week — even if it was a joke.
“He’s looking hefty,” the Bengals quarterback said of Smith during a conference call with Cleveland media.
“I know he hasn’t turned down too many meals.”
Smith didn’t pull any punches either.
“I haven’t missed too many meals, but Carson doesn’t need to worry about how many meals I’m missing,” Smith said.
“He needs to worry about (how to) stop letting (receiver) Chad (Johnson) embarrass him all the time. Chad is always yelling at Carson. He’s always throwing a little temper tantrum. That’s why I said he needs a pacifier.”
Palmer isn’t known for his trash talking, but he also said the Bengals (5-9) were aiming to knock the Browns (9-5) off their pedestal. The teams meet Sunday at 1 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium.
“That shocked me at first,” Smith said. “Carson’s not a guy who really talks. It’s just a little trash talk. I’m going to be a pest all game. That’s what I love to do.
“I really want to sack him. If I sack him, I’m not going to get up. I might take the 15-yard (penalty) on that one. It’s all for fun.”
Smith was signed from Cincinnati as a restricted free agent in the offseason. He has adjusted to life in the 3-4 and having to bounce between end and nose tackle.
“Once he learned the technique and understood what we’re trying to get done defensively, his production picked up quite a bit,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “He’s developed into a good player for us at both positions.”
Smith has started six games at end and two at nose tackle and has 50 tackles, two sacks, two pressures and a forced fumble.
K-2 tired of uniforms
An interview tight end Kellen Winslow did with Penthouse Magazine has some fans upset.
“Next year, you’re gonna see some new uniforms for the Cleveland Browns,” he said in the interview.
“This is really a big part of what Braylon Edwards and I have been talking about for a long time. It may be something similar to what the Broncos have.
“It’s time for a change. Sometimes people live in the past in Cleveland. That’s fine, but this team is trying to build an identity and start up something new.”
On Friday, Winslow backed off the statement.
“It’s just a suggestion,” he said. “It’s just something we’re thinking about. It’s nothing serious at all.”
Owner Randy Lerner is a traditionalist and the team has made no announcement about changes to the uniform.
Shutout was legit
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the awful conditions took nothing away from the shutout the Browns posted Sunday against the Bills.
“When you look at the game, we were more physical,” he said. “We were ready to play in the elements.”
The defense is still ranked last in the NFL in yardage (378.4) and 29th in points allowed (25.4), but Grantham thinks it got a boost from its first shutout in two years.
Third down key for ‘D’
The Browns allowed 29.4 points per game through 10 games, but have dropped that to 15.5 over the last four weeks. Third down has a lot to do with it, as the Browns have allowed opponents to convert only 13 of 62 (21 percent) in the last five games. The Bills were 3-for-16.
In the first nine games, opponents converted 45 percent (57 of 127) on third down.
“That’s the big thing for us, to be able to get off the field on third down,” Grantham said. “That has been more a product of guys playing tight coverage and getting pressure on the quarterback, making him get rid of the ball.”
Cornerback Leigh Bodden (back) returned to practice in a limited capacity and was listed as probable for the game Sunday.
“I feel good,” he said. “I just had to take the day off (Thursday).”
Linebacker Antwan Peek (ankle) and nose tackle Ethan Kelley (knee) are questionable, while defensive linemen Robaire Smith (back), Shaun Smith (back) and Orpheus Roye (knee) are probable.
Kelley hadn’t been on the injury report this week but showed up Friday with a lingering knee issue. Guard Eric Steinbach was excused from practice for a personal reason. He’s expected to play.
For the Bengals, running back Rudi Johnson (hamstring) is out and safety Madieu Williams (quadriceps) is doubtful. Tackle Willie Anderson (knee) and safety Dexter Jackson (calf) are questionable, and third receiver Chris Henry (ankle) is probable.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.