By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
Looking back at Brady: Defensive coordinator Ray Horton conceded he eased off the gas pedal on New England’s second-to-last TD drive on Sunday, which began with 2:39 to play and the Browns ahead, 26-14.
After his defense harassed Tom Brady pretty well over the course of the first 57 ½ minutes of the game, Horton backed off to strictly a four-man pass rush on Brady’s 82-yard drive that brought the Patriots to within 26-20 with 1:01 to go.
“Obviously, in that situation you’re trying to milk the clock,” Horton said. “We would have liked to have had a pick, a fumble, a sack. That was our operation … keep them in bounds, make them go the length of the field. I was counting on the four-man rush to get there.”
After New England’s onside kick gave Brady the ball at the Browns’ 40, Horton switched to man coverage and Brady burned him. Brady singled out cornerback Leon McFadden as his target and drew a lame, disputed pass interference penalty that set up the game-winning TD pass from 1-yard.
“The tough thing is … (Brady) audibilized to different plays,” Horton said. “Three times he checked to different plays. He put them in the right play. The dilemma is how do you protect against a guy that changes the play?
“(There’s) not enough time (to adjust). He used hand signals, one time he nodded to a guy, one time he put two thumbs up …”
Hello, my name is: Edwin Baker. He’s the newest Browns running back and is expected to be active for Sunday’s game against the Bears, taking the place of Willis McGahee (concussion).
Baker, 5-8 and 200 pounds, was a seventh-round pick of the Chargers last year when Norv Turner was head coach. He spent the year on their practice squad and most recently was on the Houston Texans’ practice squad.
So the active backs on Sunday will be Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whittaker and Baker.
Baker is the 16th running back to wear a Browns uniform this season.
Training camp started with Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Ogbonnaya, Brandon Jackson, Dion Lewis, Owen Marecic and Brad Smelley.
Other backs who've passed through at various points in the year have included Jamaine Cook, Robbie Rouse, Miquel Maysonet, Brock Bolen, Dennis Johnson, Bobby Rainey, McGahee, Whittaker and now Baker.
The running back carousel has been overshadowed by the ever-popular quarterback carousel.
Turner said, “In August, if somebody had told me Trent Richardson wasn’t going to be here and we would have to play three different quarterbacks and they’d all have to play three or four games, and obviously the running back situation, you would be saying this offense would struggle, and I think our guys have handled it extremely well.”
Surprisingly, Turner said dealing with the backfield situation has been tougher than the changing QBs.
“That’s been the biggest challenge, trying to coordinate the running game with the backs we have,” he said.
Mr. Popularity: The most recent balloting for the Pro Bowl on nfl.com shows Ogbonnaya (222,495) running second to Mike Tolbert (324,223) of Carolina in the fan vote.
A change this year has removed conference affiliations. Since each squad would have at least one fullback, Ogbonnaya is in good shape to claim an early bid for a roster spot. The fan vote counts one-third toward the final makeup. Coaches and players vote Dec. 23-26.
It’s fairly surprising that Ogbonnaya would garner so many votes – not because he is not deserving but because of the low profile he carries nationally. For example, highlight-maker Josh Gordon, the hottest player in the NFL for over a month, is not among the top 10 vote-getters at receiver.
“It’s surprising,” Ogbonnaya said. “It’s flattering at the same time. I think when I look at how I do things, for me it’s about respect. That’s what I aim for. Definitely flattering that the fans, at least, have noticed that.”
Man of the Year: Linebacker Jabaal Sheard was named the Browns’ nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Each team selects a nominee based on playing excellence and community service. The field then is narrowed to three finalists, who are invited to Super Bowl week. One winner then is announced the night before the Super Bowl. The Browns have had two finalists recently, Joe Thomas in 2012 and Mike Furrey in 2009.
Sheard has tirelessly supported numerous Browns community efforts pertaining to kid’s education, and also to hunger and clothes drives, and kids with disabilities.
|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 email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
Return to: Grossi Stories Blog