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BROWNS Offensive line draws praise from quarterback



Published: Tue, August 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PHIL NOVAK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BEREA -- After a great performance Saturday in a 10-3 win over the Green Bay Packers, Tim Couch wasted no time thanking his offensive line for its efforts on the 19-play, 96-yard drive that led to a touchdown in the Cleveland Browns' preseason opener.

"I just think the offensive line did a great job of drive blocking their guys," he said. "They opened up some holes, the running backs did a great job of hitting their holes, not hesitating, just getting up in there and getting what they can get."

Couch started off slow with an under-thrown pass to rookie receiver Quincy Morgan and two three-and-out drives. But he came to life on the Browns' third drive and finished the game 10 for 13 with 82 yards and a touchdown for a 118.1 quarterback rating.

"I think it was a confidence boost, definitely," Couch said. & quot;Going on that long drive was something we needed as an offense just to show ourselves that we're capable of going the length of the field at any time. It's a confidence builder, but we still have some stuff that we need to clean up. The first two drives were a little shaky, so we still have a ways to go."

Still, the team looked better on offense than it had in the last two seasons. And the offensive line -- which frequently gave Couch and No. 2 quarterback Ty Detmer plenty of time to find an open man -- was the big reason for the success.

Jelling: "I think they've got an attitude that they want to be a great offensive line, and they're really jelling together as a unit," Couch said. "[They're] communicating well at the line of scrimmage, and I think they're just fighting. They're opening up holes for the backs, [and] a couple times, the quarterbacks in the game had 3, 4 [or] 5 seconds to throw the ball. If they give us that much time, we're going to find an open guy."

The 96-yard drive, capped by running back Jamel White's 9-yard touchdown reception, eclipsed the Browns' longest scoring drive in 2000 in both yards and plays. Detmer also directed a 16-play, 92-yard drive that led to a field goal, and the Browns' offense finished the game with 336 total yards.

"I think we just need to continue to grow," Couch said. "We're going to keep running the same plays. The whole offense is already installed, so it's just a matter of continuing to get good quality reps and improving on it.

"It was a good start, but it's nowhere near where we want to be when the season starts," he said. "We still have a few weeks to go to get ready for [the season-opener against] Seattle, and we just want to use these weeks to prep up and get things going smoothly."

The Browns' defense, meanwhile, held the Packers to 218 total yards, 72 yards rushing. The rush defense was a major weakness the last two years.

"I think we did fairly well, but you know, we didn't do perfect," said linebacker Wali Rainer. "We just have to keep getting better. Like coach said, 'it takes every player individually getting better for the team to get better.' "

The defense also had four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

"I think the team is coming together defensively," Rainer said. "We're not quite there, but we're pushing towards it."

pnovak@vindy.com




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