Dangerous Player: Joshua Cribbs, Browns returner

November, 4, 2009
11/04/09
1:00
PM ET
NFC: D. Jackson (PHI) | S. Jackson (STL) | P. Harvin (MIN) | D. Williams (CAR)
AFC: R. Brown (MIA) | D. Sproles (SD) | J. Cribbs (CLE) | C. Johnson (TEN)

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

A look at the players opposing teams hate to see with the ball in their hands in the open field.

Despite a 1-7 start, the most dangerous open-field player in the AFC North remains Cleveland Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs.
 
 Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images
 Joshua Cribbs’ stiff-arm has become one of his signature moves.


Cribbs is tied with Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFL lead in kickoff return yards with 860, which includes a 98-yard return for a touchdown. Cribbs also has 295 yards and a touchdown on punt returns this year, in addition to his many duties on coverage teams, receiver and part-time quarterback in Cleveland's Wildcat package.

The Browns cannot get the ball in Cribbs' hands enough, because he is the most dynamic and versatile player the team has. As an undrafted player out of Kent State, Cribbs has a mixture of fearlessness and old-school toughness that is hard to find.

There are several qualities that make Cribbs very dangerous in the open field. He has great vision for a kick returner, and he's big enough to break through arm tackles and fast enough to pull away from defenders. Cribbs also has a unique ability to remain at top speed while stiff-arming would-be tacklers. Many of his biggest returns have come as a result of this move.

Other players who just missed the cut in the AFC North include Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes, who was last season's Super Bowl MVP after catching the game-winning touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. Holmes led the NFL in yards per catch two years ago among players with 25 receptions or more. He continues to make big plays but needs to work on his consistency.

Baltimore Ravens tailback Ray Rice also was in consideration. The second-year tailback is among the league leaders in all-purpose yards and is a star in the making.

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