NFL Nation: Chris Jennings

Cleveland Browns cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
9:47
PM ET
Check here for a full list of Cleveland's roster moves.

Biggest surprise: The biggest surprise is that Cleveland waited until after 9 p.m. ET Saturday to announce its moves. Supposedly, it was a strategic decision so other teams were not aware of players the Browns made available. I don’t think it makes a difference, especially because the Browns are not a team rich with talent to begin with. As far as players, Browns cornerback Brandon McDonald's name stood out most on this list. His career has been up and down, but he brought a wealth of starting experience (27 starts) to a young secondary. McDonald may have helped seal his own fate when he made negative headlines this summer for an offensive tweet aimed at Cincinnati Bengals receiver Terrell Owens. The Browns were not pleased with McDonald’s poor judgment.

No-brainers: Quarterback Brett Ratliff had no shot of making this team, because the Browns already have their three players at the position in Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace and rookie Colt McCoy. New Browns president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert made several additions at cornerback this offseason, including veteran defensive back Sheldon Brown and rookie first-round pick Joe Haden. That made it very tough for young corners such as Coye Francies to make the team. Receiver Syndric Steptoe has talent and may get interest elsewhere, particularly as a kick returner. But with Pro Bowl returner Josh Cribbs in Cleveland, the Browns have no use for Steptoe.

What's next: Despite Cleveland establishing its 53-man roster, the Browns should still be active on the waiver wires. This roster overall is not very deep, especially compared to its AFC North counterparts. So the Browns could make some additions in several areas to improve the bottom of their roster. Backups shouldn’t get too comfortable in Cleveland.

Final Word: AFC North

December, 4, 2009
12/04/09
4:01
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

Cedric Benson
AP Photo/Tom E. PuskarCedric Benson will rejoin a crowded Bengals backfield.
'Big Ben' is back: Amid controversy and plenty of national headlines, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns to the starting lineup Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Team captain Hines Ward questioned the decision to pull Roethlisberger one day before Pittsburgh’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. But Ward said this week that the issue has been resolved. The best way for the Steelers to truly move on is to get back on the winning track and for Roethlisberger to have a big game. Their three-game skid has caused a lot of discontent for a proud group that’s not used to losing this time of year. This game against Oakland is virtually a must-win for the Steelers (6-5), who have a small margin of error if they want to get into the postseason.

Benson rejoins crowded field: Another player who is returning to the starting lineup, but with less attention, is Cincinnati Bengals starting tailback Cedric Benson. He missed the past two weeks with a hip injury. Cincinnati’s offense has run the ball well without Benson, which makes you wonder how carries will be distributed between Benson, former Pro Bowler Larry Johnson and rookie Bernard Scott. All three tailbacks have had 100-yard games this season. Benson wasn’t too happy with the recent signing of Johnson. It will be interesting to see how Cincinnati's coaching staff handles this sensitive matter the rest of the season.

Protections issues: If the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) want to pull off the upset Monday and beat the Green Bay Packers (7-4) at Lambeau Field, the Ravens must apply constant pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay's offense is red hot, averaging 32 points the past two weeks. But the Packers’ biggest weakness has been protecting Rodgers, who has been sacked an astounding 44 times. Baltimore has been inconsistent in rushing the passer. But this is a golden opportunity for the Ravens to turn up the heat against a team that hasn’t blocked well all season.

The Clayton factor: In the first four games after the bye week, Baltimore Ravens receiver Mark Clayton had only five catches for 58 yards. Then Clayton exploded for seven catches for 129 yards in last week’s huge win over Pittsburgh. The Ravens (6-5) need more of that from their former first-round pick if they expect to make a push to the postseason. Clayton has been one of the great enigmas in the AFC North. He’s had big performances over his five-year career but usually disappears for weeks afterward. Clayton's biggest game before Sunday was in Baltimore's season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, when he had five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

New rushers: With the season-ending concussion to Jamal Lewis, the Cleveland Browns will now turn to backups Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings for the remainder of the season. Both Harrison and Jennings have shown a few flashes this year but are averaging only 3.6 and 3.4 yards per carry respectively. The coaching staff pretty much knows what it has in Harrison, who is a smaller, change-of-pace type of runner who struggles with pass protection. Look for the team to give Jennings a lot of touches down the stretch to find out what the former CFL product is made of.

James Davis out for the year

October, 3, 2009
10/03/09
3:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
 Davis


The running game of the Cleveland Browns suffered another blow Saturday when the team announced rookie tailback James Davis is out for the season. The Browns put Davis on injured reserve and didn’t specify the reason. But Davis has been dealing with a shoulder injury and has been in and out of the lineup since Week 1.

Davis led the Browns in rushing during an impressive preseason. The sixth-round pick from Clemson was the team’s biggest surprise in training camp but was never able to get going during the regular season.

Cleveland (0-3) signed Chris Jennings from its practice squad to replace Davis. Starting running back Jamal Lewis (hamstring) is doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1). So backup Jerome Harrison likely will be the featured back for the second straight week.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider