BEREA — Rookie left tackle Joe Thomas will feel the heat of the spotlight Sunday when defensive end Jason Taylor and the Miami Dolphins visit. Taylor is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year after posting 13.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. He will spend most of his time lined up across from Thomas.
“It’s a great challenge and it’s going to be a great test for me,” said Thomas, the third pick in the draft. “He uses his speed very well, but his pass rush moves are what really turned him into such a great player.”
Taylor is considered light at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, but right guard Seth McKinney, who spent five years with him in Miami, said it would be a mistake to underestimate his strength.
“Some people can get fooled into thinking speed, speed, speed, but one time he was going against (Baltimore’s Jonathan) Ogden and just stabbed him in the chest and knocked him over,” McKinney said. “That’s impressive for a guy his weight to be able to do that. He’s got that kind of strength. He’s an elite pass rusher for sure.”
At 6-6, 315 pounds, Thomas relies on his athleticism to deal with pass rushers, which should present an interesting matchup with Taylor.
“Joe will accept this challenge and fight him pretty hard,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “He’s going to see some speed and quickness on a consistent basis that he’s not used to seeing, and experience to go with it. It’ll be a good test for him.”
Taylor has three sacks this year.
“You have to know where he is and have a plan for him on every play,” running back Jason Wright said. “You can’t just treat him like another guy.”
Running back Jamal Lewis didn’t practice for the third straight day Friday, but was listed as questionable on the injury report. He strained his foot on the first play Sunday vs. New England and missed the rest of the game.
Crennel is holding out hope Lewis will be able to go. If not, Wright will get the start and Jerome Harrison will be the backup.
Receiver Joe Jurevicius (knee) was limited in practice and listed as questionable. He said he’d try to play, but wasn’t certain he’d be able. Tim Carter would start for him.
Tight end/special teamer Darnell Dinkins (hand) is doubtful, safety Brodney Pool (thigh) is questionable and tight end Kellen Winslow (shoulder) is probable.
Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel was fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness for driving back Thomas after the ball was spiked in the final minute, the NFL confirmed.
Browns guard Eric Steinbach, who later called the play “classless,” pushed Vrabel, and center Hank Fraley and Thomas piled on. None of them was fined. No penalties were called on the play.
Special teams coordinator Ted Daisher met with the media for the first time since the Raiders blocked Phil Dawson’s last-second field goal that would’ve won the game in Week 3. Daisher was asked what it’s like to coach a unit that fails in the final seconds.
“Personally, I feel I’m responsible,” he said. “What goes good is my responsibility and what goes bad is my responsibility. You just feel awful. You know he’s going to make it. You know you’re going to win the game.”
He said it made it worse that the block came against his former team. “I can’t begin to explain. Words cannot describe,” he said.
Offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley was working with a trainer on his pass protection drops outside while the team practiced inside. Bentley, who tore a patellar tendon on the first full day of 2006 training camp, had a large brace on the knee.
Bentley began the year on the physically unable to perform list and is eligible to begin practicing next week. The Browns have a three-week window for him to return to practice, then another three-week window after he begins practicing to activate him or put him on the injured list for the season.
The 2007 class of punter/receiver Horace Gillom, defensive end Bill Glass, kicker Don Cockroft and running back Kevin Mack will be inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends on Sunday during a halftime ceremony.
The Budweiser Clydesdales will deliver the Legends Class to the stadium. The ride will start from the Warehouse District and finish at Alfred Lerner Way at noon. The Clydesdales will stick around until kickoff for pictures with fans.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.