By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
Say it ain’t so, Joe: Perish the thought of the Browns’ slumping defense without cornerback Joe Haden, but it’s a real possibility for Sunday’s game in MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets.
Haden was still in pain on Monday after suffering a hip pointer – or deep bruise to his hip – in the third quarter of Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Bears.
Haden said, “They said I should be good, but it’s just day to day. It hurts.”
Haden was trying to cut Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod on an outside run by Michael Bush. Haden overshot his target and Bushrod’s knee slammed into his left hip.
“I knew it was nothing bad bad. I knew I was going to be OK. But at that very moment, I couldn’t get up,” he said.
Without Haden, the Browns’ defense gave up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to blow a 24-17 lead. A year ago, the Browns went 0-5 in games Haden did not play (four in a suspension, one due to injury).
Haden said he doesn’t want to be shut down for the season, but he won’t play if he doesn’t think he can help the team. Haden is finishing his fourth season with the Browns. His previous teams were 5-11, 4-12 and 5-11.
Haden was one of the happiest players when the Browns were 3-2. That record has devolved to 4-10.
“It’s very disappointing, especially when you have a team that you know can win,” Haden said. “It’s frustrating. You always try to stay positive. We still have two games left. We have to finish the season strong. You don’t want to go into the offseason with this bad a taste in your mouth. At least go into it going up. We just have to finish off strong, try to win these last two, however we can.”
Touchdown-maker: Running back Edwin Baker stamped his mark on this season five days after arriving. Baker’s 2-yard touchdown was the longest scoring run of the season.
He led the team’s deprived running game with 38 yards on eight attempts (4.8 average) and added 46 yards receiving on four catches.
Baker started the week on Houston’s practice squad and ended it playing 21 offensive snaps. Chris Ogbonnaya had 34 snaps, including a few as a fullback, and Fozzy Whittaker had nine.
“In a short amount of time he was able to come in -- he had some background with (the offensive system) -- and I thought he came in and gave us a spark,” said coach Rob Chudzinski. “He made some good runs. Looked explosive. Had some juice. Made a nice catch, able to get some run after catch.”
Chudzinski indicated Baker earned more playing time, even if Willis McGahee is cleared to return after going through concussion protocol.
“Certainly what he did in the game earned a lot of respect. He made good on his opportunity,” the coach said.
From Michigan State, Baker was a seventh-round draft choice in 2012 by the San Diego Chargers when Norv Turner was head coach. The touchdown he scored on Sunday was his first since the 2011 Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.
“They always say good things come to those who wait. I’ve been waiting for a while,” Baker said.
“It was frustrating at times, but you can’t lose faith. God has a plan for everybody. That’s all I was doing, praying, and knowing that I belong. I know how good I am, what kind of talent I have.”
Roster addition: You know the Browns, always tinkering with their roster.
Chudzinski and wife Sheila welcomed their fourth child – their third son – early Monday morning. The hours blended together and made for a long Sunday night and Monday for the Browns’ coach.
Chudzinski’s routine Monday post-mortem was postponed until the afternoon and cut short so that he could return to his family.
|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
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