BEREA — Browns defensive end Orpheus Roye’s oft-injured knees are hurting again.
The 34-year-old lineman is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery this morning to repair torn cartilage in his right knee, putting his availability for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener in doubt.
“Orpheus has had some clicking in his knee, so we’re going to clean that out and see if we can get him back for the regular season,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Wednesday. “The doctors will tell me what they find, how much they have to clean out, and what the recovery period will be.”
Roye previously battled left knee problems in 2001, right knee problems in 2005 and left knee problems again in 2006 while with the Browns.
He did not miss a game for physical reasons in his first four NFL seasons in Pittsburgh from 1996 to 1999.
The 11-year veteran, who has undergone operations on both knees in recent years, will go under the knife again because of the location of his latest injury.
“It’s in a different place that bears a little more weight,” Crennel said. “That’s why we’re not putting him with any kind of cane or walking boot. We’re going to take care of it now.”
Roye — widely considered Cleveland’s top defensive player — was hobbled in practice over the weekend, limiting his time on the field with fellow down linemen Robaire Smith and Ted Washington.
With “Big O” now out indefinitely, the latter duo will be given an even bigger test by having to line up alongside either Shaun Smith, J’Vonne Parker, Simon Fraser or Orien Harris.
Shaun Smith (seven), Fraser (five), Parker and Harris have just 12 NFL starts between them, but one will be in the starting lineup Aug. 11 when the Browns host Kansas City in their first preseason game.
“It’s an opportunity for me to step up and help the team any way I can,” Shaun Smith said.
Asked if he ever played end for the Bengals, Smith said yes.
“I did sometimes,” he said. “I played everywhere. It’s just a matter of opportunities. You’ve got to take
advantage of the opportunities to play.”
Crennel stressed that Smith, Fraser, Parker and Harris will all be given a chance.
“They’re all going to get a look,” Crennel said. “The guy who steps up most is the guy we’re gonna use.”
The guy the Browns could use the most, though, is Roye.
Suddenly, the depth they gained by signing the Smiths isn’t as impressive with the heart of their defense in the hospital. Not picking a lineman in the first five rounds of this year’s NFL Draft also hasn’t helped their present plight.
“We have a plan for all of our ‘D’ linemen,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “We’ll keep them fresh by building a rotation.”
But whether Roye will be part of that rotation is something no one except his surgeon can predict.
“I know that Orpheus is a tough-minded individual and he’ll do everything he can to get out on the football field,” Crennel said. “Now, whether the body will do that, I’m not a doctor.”
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.