December 20, 2014

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Browns notes: Players sound off on refs

BEREA — The replacement officials have struck a nerve.

“Just wondering: Who gets it right more? A weatherman or a replacement NFL referee?” kicker Phil Dawson tweeted Monday.

Dawson might be the nicest player in the Browns locker room and rarely has a negative thing to say. But he followed his teammates and players around the league in criticizing the fill-ins for their work in Week 2. The normal officials have been locked out by the NFL since the offseason in a contract dispute.

“Missed calls & bad calls are going to happen,” Browns linebacker Scott Fujita tweeted. “That’s part of the deal & we can all live with it. But not knowing all the rules and major procedural errors (like allowing the clock to run after an incomplete pass) are completely unacceptable. Enough already.”

The Browns were penalized 10 times for 103 yards Sunday in a 34-27 loss to the Bengals. Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said the replacement officials had a lot to do with that.

“We’re trying to get used to how they’re calling games,” he said. “For so long we’ve been used to a certain way of calling games. Now it’s an adjustment period.

“It’s affecting everyone around the league.”

Jackson was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness for knocking down tight end Jermaine Gresham within 5 yards of the line as he was trying to run a pattern.

“It was a play I’ve played that way for seven years,” Jackson said. “A guy within 5 yards, you’re able to hit him. And I hit the guy within the rules and talked to the ref afterwards. He had his explanation for it and at the end of the day we just agreed to disagree.”

At the end of the first half, the officials didn’t stop the clock after Cleveland receiver Travis Benjamin went out of bounds after a catch. When they tried to correct the error, they still didn’t put enough time on the clock.

Injury report

  • Tight end Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter when he took a knee to the head after catching a pass. The symptoms continued after the game and he was taken to a Cincinnati-area hospital. He was cleared and released Sunday evening, driven back to Cleveland and should be OK, agent Kevin Robinson said. The Browns listed him as day-to-day.
  • Coach Pat Shurmur didn’t give updates on rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn (concussion) and defensive end Juqua Parker (sprained foot).

Streak still going

Cornerback Sheldon Brown was on the field for one play Sunday, extending his consecutive-games streak to 162 to start his career. He’s still recovering from a neck injury suffered in the opener.

“I’ve been with Sheldon a long time and I’m a big Sheldon Brown fan,” Shurmur said. “I think his role will change as it goes along and there’s a good chance you’ll see him in there more this week. He was banged up through the week last week and I don’t think that’s going to be an issue as we move forward.”

Brown was inserted for one play — Jackson got an interception — to keep the streak going.

“I think it’s important,” Shurmur said. “Those are important things to him as an individual.

“I think if you asked an unselfish guy like Sheldon he will tell you … he would give up a streak for a victory.”

Room for four

Trent Richardson (knee) and Chris Ogbonnaya (ankle) have regained their health, leaving the Browns with four available running backs. Shurmur said the team can continue to carry all of them.

He used Richardson as the primary running back and Ogbonnaya in certain passing situations Sunday. Ogbonnaya was inactive Week 1.

Montario Hardesty was active but didn’t get an offensive snap for the second straight week. Brandon Jackson was inactive after serving as the third-down back in the opener.

“Ogbonnaya is a very dependable guy,” Shurmur said. “He carries the ball well. There were some pickups on protection that were good. Not to say the other backs can’t do that, but that’s how we used him yesterday.

“Montario was there if Trent needed a break. Trent doesn’t ever need a break now, it doesn’t look like. So, yeah, I think you can have four.”

What comes first?

Shurmur kicked a field goal with 20 seconds left to cut the lead to seven and give the Browns the chance to recover an onside kick and score the tying touchdown. The field goal came on fourth-and-6 from the 7-yard line.

“You need to score once, you need to get the onside kick and then you need to score again. Now, in and around getting the onside kick, who cares what the score (field goal or touchdown) is?

“Because had we gone for it on fourth down and not made it, game over.”

The theory behind going for a touchdown is that it’s easier to kick a tying field goal than score a tying touchdown.

Shurmur was asked if the position on the field matters in his decision.

“I guess you could consider it,” he said. “Somebody would have had to grab me by the neck and tackle me. You get the points, you make an effort to get the onside kick and then you make an effort to score again.”

Extra points

  • Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller rushed for 123 yards and two TDs in a 35-17 win over Kansas City and has 292 yards on 29 attempts in two games, a 10.1 average. He is the first player to average at least 10 yards per carry through his team’s first two games (minimum 25 attempts) since Jim Brown in 1963 — 35 carries for 394 yards, an 11.3 average. The Browns entered Monday night ranked 18th against the run, allowing 115 yards a game.
  • Fujita is expected to talk today with commissioner Roger Goodell regarding his three-game suspension for his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal. The suspension was overturned Sept. 7 by an appeals panel, but Goodell can reinstate the discipline.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.