AFC North: Mike Bell

Ravens-Browns halftime notes

December, 26, 2010
CLEVELAND -- The Baltimore Ravens lead the Browns, 13-10, at intermission. Here are some notes at halftime:
  • There was some early trash-talking between these teams. Baltimore had talked all week about how it wasn't familiar with Browns tailback Peyton Hillis when he rushed for 144 yards in the first meeting and that it won't happen again. Browns fullback Lawrence Vickers obviously took exception and shared some words with several Ravens defenders in warm-ups. Browns guard Eric Steinbach also did the Ray Lewis dance during Cleveland's pregame introduction.
  • Speaking of Hillis, he hasn't been able to get on track for the Browns. He rushed for 18 yards on seven carries and might be banged up. He's been out of the game for long stretches and was dealing with a knee injury during the week. Cleveland backup tailback Mike Bell also rushed for 10 yards in the first half.
  • Conversely, there are more big holes in the run defense of the Browns this week. The Ravens are running heavily and are having success pounding Cleveland’s defense, which allowed 380 total rushing yards the previous two games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. Baltimore gained 78 yards rushing in the first half and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
  • The Browns came out early with a trick play that worked. On its second drive, Cleveland pitched the ball to receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who then threw it 20 yards to receiver Brian Robiskie for a 20-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. It was the first time a non-quarterback threw a touchdown pass for Cleveland since 2002. Massaquoi later made a bad play in the second quarter by getting stripped by Ravens cornerback Chris Carr, a fumble which led to a Baltimore touchdown.
  • Ravens safety Ed Reed got his fifth interception of the season but also had an injury scare. Reed was shaken up after a 20-yard return and in pain on the sideline. The nature of the injury was unclear, but doctors re-taped Reed's left shoe and he went back in the game.

Jerome Harrison exits Browns' doghouse

October, 13, 2010
As much as Browns head coach Eric Mangini denied Jerome Harrison was in his doghouse, that was the case in Cleveland. It's the primary reason the Browns traded Harrison to the Philadelphia Eagles for running back Mike Bell Wednesday.

Harrison, after a great finish to the 2009 season, never got off on the right foot in 2010. He was unhappy with his contract and held out for much of Cleveland's offseason program. In the process, the Browns traded for Peyton Hillis and drafted Montario Hardesty in the second round to add competition for Harrison's job. Harrison unhappily settled for a one-year tender.

After a sub-par training camp and preseason in which Harrison developed a fumbling issue, he fell further out of favor with the coaching staff. Hardesty's season-ending knee injury gave Harrison a brief chance to start, but the Browns had already lost trust in the running back. As soon as Hillis got hot, Cleveland didn't think twice about relegating Harrison to the bench, where he's been most of this season.

Bigger backs are what Mangini wants and Harrison didn't fit the mold. Harrison has talent but is better running outside than between the tackles and is shaky with picking up blitzes. With Hillis battling a quad injury, Cleveland gets another running back in Bell to provide depth. Bell has a clean slate and a better opportunity to gain the trust Harrison lost with the Browns.

A fresh start was best for both sides.