By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
A tackle named Suh: At last count, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has racked up $177,500 in NFL fines and numerous personal fouls for illegal hits in his four years in the league.
Although Sunday marks the Browns’ first regular-season encounter with Suh, they have played him four times in the preseason series with the Lions. In fact, Suh’s very first NFL fine (for $7,500) came after a play in a preseason game in 2010 on which Suh grabbed Browns QB Jake Delhomme by his helmet and threw him to the ground.
Suh generally is considered the most disruptive interior lineman in the NFL today and, in at least one player’s poll conducted by the Sporting News, the league’s dirtiest player.
“Some people may have their opinions and agendas,” Suh said on a conference call this week. “People who have voices can make those things happen. It’s not my business or my place.
“I’m never going to change. I don’t know how many times I’ll have to say it. I’ll just play blue-collar football and really find ways to help my team be successful, and be dominant to where offenses have to recognize me and respect me and look out for me every single game.”
Suh’s ability to disrupt on offense vs. Brandon Weeden’s 16 sacks in three games is one of the main storylines of Sunday’s game.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said the Lions moved Suh into three different positions in the preseason game – both tackles spots and left end. He spends most of his time on the Lions’ left side, which means the right side of the Browns’ line – a trouble spot at times this year – will be severely tested.
“He splits double teams,” Turner said. “He’s used to being doubled. But they have other guys. So our emphasis has been helping our outside, particularly on our right side. But at some point, you’ve got to go block him and you have to go beat the guy you’re playing against.”
The Browns’ interior linemen are not shrinking from the challenge.
Right guard Shawn Lauvao, who will make his second start since recovering from a high ankle sprain, said Suh’s reputation “adds to it, too. I feel if you’re an O-lineman or D-lineman, you’ve got have some juice to you. I mean, we get hit every play. I get it.”
Center Alex Mack, who has had his share of on-field skirmishes, said, “Hey, we’re trying to play football here. You look forward to a good competition. They do a lot up front. We’ve got to be prepared.”
Asked if he considered Suh a dirty player, Mack said, “I’m not gonna answer that.”
Sheard back: Linebackers Jabaal Sheard (knee) and Quentin Groves (ankle) both had their second consecutive day of limited practice. It’s looking good for both to return Sunday.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton wouldn’t answer if Sheard would return to his normal starting spot and move Barkevious Mingo back to a reserve role. But his comments indicated that’s what would happen.
“He was playing well,” Horton said of Sheard. “Jabaal is a very smart player. He allows us to do things. He’s one of our better players.”
Asked if Sheard would return as a starter, Horton said, “That’s a head coach’s decision. We want all of our good players on the field.”
Meanwhile, Mingo had a learning experience in the Buffalo game, when he lost outside contain on a handoff to C.J. Spiller that exploded into a 54-yard TD scamper.
“Young players like him, we’re gonna grow with him,” Horton said. “He’s new. He hasn’t played a lot. He’s going to be a dynamic player, but also he’s got that learning curve. Every game is a different opponent, different schemes. Mistakes happen in a game.”
Have you hugged your Weeden today?: Offensive coordinator Norv Turner defended Weeden’s contributions in the 37-24 win over Buffalo.
“Much was made of the first two plays when he was in there,” Turner said. “One was a screen that he had to throw the ball away. The other one was completely covered. There really wasn’t much he could have done, so he made good decisions on both plays.
“I think he can speed up the process when the plays not there and get the ball out quicker and that will help our protection but in some cases it’s not going to change the result of the play. The thing that was important to me, as Brandon got comfortable playing again. He made all the key plays down the stretch.”
In another context, Turner said, “The most important thing we’ve done in the last two weeks is not turn the ball over. Brandon was a part of that. He played (61) plays and we had no turnovers when he was in.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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