November 27, 2014

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Browns notes: Cribbs catches five, makes little impact

DENVER — Joshua Cribbs set a career high with five catches Sunday in a 27-6 loss to the Broncos, but it was one of the worst games of his five-year career.

Despite the catches, he totaled 22 yards receiving, dropped a pass, was held to 4 yards on one rush and had little impact on special teams. He didn’t cover kicks and averaged just 20 yards on three kickoff returns and 12 yards on two punt returns.

His biggest mistake was a lost a fumble that led to a Denver field goal and 13-6 lead early in the third quarter. He caught a short pass on third-and-9 and tried to break. Elvis Dumervil forced the fumble and Brian Dawkins recovered at the Cleveland 38-yard line.

“I was trying to do too much,” Cribbs said. “I was short of a first down, so I tried to catch the ball, get up the field and try to get a first down, keep the chains moving.

“We preach, just do your job and let all the interconnected pieces work for themselves, and I tried to do too much.”

Cribbs’ previous best was four catches against Denver in 2006. He’s the starting receiver on an offense that has scored just one garbage-time touchdown in two games.

“I just do what I’m told,” he said. “I play as hard as I can, that’s it.

“I’m a little embarrassed about the way we played out there, the way I played out there.”

Cribbs could see his time at receiver reduced and his kick coverage duties return.

Burned again

Cornerback Brandon McDonald had the worst game of his three-year career last season in a loss to Denver. He gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns and dropped two interceptions. He wasn’t a disaster Sunday, but he was the culprit on one of the game’s biggest plays.

The Browns were down 13-6 early in the fourth quarter when Jabar Gaffney caught an out in front of McDonald, made him miss and ran 49 yards to the 2-yard line. The Broncos scored on the next play.

“We were in a blitz coverage and I got kind of caught at the line of scrimmage trying to disguise (the coverage),” McDonald said. “All I needed to do was come out of that break at a better angle and try to make an immediate tackle and I took a bad angle. All I could do was just try to catch him before he could get in the end zone.”

The good, the bad

  • Phil Dawson’s two first-quarter field goals moved him into a tie with Don Cockroft for second on the franchise’s all-time list with 216 field goals. Lou Groza is first with 234.
  • Nickelback Hank Poteat had a rough first half. He was penalized for holding on third-and-19 that gave Denver an automatic first down, was beaten by slot receiver Brandon Stokley for 37 yards on third-and-5 to set up a field goal and was called for an 18-yard pass interference penalty. His penalties were the only ones called on Cleveland in the first half.

Fraley fills in

Right guard Floyd Womack left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and didn’t return.
He was replaced by Hank Fraley, who’s spent nearly all of his career at center. Fraley started at center for the Browns the last three seasons.

“You never know when your number is going toget called,” he said. “I kind of went down to my rookie-year jitters on the first play but after that I was OK.”

Sitting out

Rookie second-round pick Brian Robiskie, No. 36 overall, was a healthy inactive Sunday. The Ohio State alum is the No. 5 receiver and played sparingly in the opener, failing to catch a pass.

Mohamed Massaquoi, the 50th pick, was limited in practice with a shoulder injury but dressed and played Sunday. He was the fourth receiver into the game behind Braylon Edwards, Joshua Cribbs and Mike Furrey.
The other inactives: rookie running back James Davis (shoulder), guard Rex Hadnot (knee), tight end Martin Rucker, defensive back Marquis Floyd, running back Cedric Peerman and tackle Phil Trautwein. Brett Ratliff was the third quarterback.

Defensive back/special teamer Ray Ventrone and offensive lineman Billy Yates were active after being signed at the beginning of the week.

A fine mess

Yahoo.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that Mangini fined an unnamed player $1,701 (the maximum allowed) because he didn’t pay for a $3 bottle of water he drank at a hotel on the road. The player reportedly was safety Abram Elam.

Citing another source “familiar with the Browns’ internal situation,” Yahoo.com reported Mangini also had a curfew for rookies and free agents staying at a hotel near the team’s facility during some offseason workouts. That would be a violation of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, according to the report.

AFL memories

The Broncos are one of eight original American Football League teams celebrating their 50th season. Denver’s 404 wins are second among original AFL teams (Oakland 427) and seventh among all clubs since 1960.

The Broncos will wear the original 1960 uniforms Oct. 11 against New England and Oct. 19 against San Diego. The Patriots and Chargers were also in the AFL.

Extra points

  • The Denver players gave rookie coach Josh McDaniels a game ball after the opening win against Cincinnati. Josh handed it over to his dad, Thom, a longtime high school coach in Ohio who was at the game.
  • For the first time, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is asking fans to vote for the players they think should be inducted in the Class of 2010 at www.jcp.com/fans. Fans can also vote for the Brown they think most deserves to be in Canton.
  • Former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe (1990-99, 2002-03) was inducted into their Ring of Fame at halftime. He tied a franchise record with seven straight Pro Bowl selections from 1992-98. Sharpe made a unique entrance before the game, dropping into the stadium with a professional skydiver.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.