BROWNS Suggs roars ahead against Lions
Cleveland responded to last week's lackluster preseason opener with a win.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns running back Lee Suggs dodged his way past the Detroit Lions defense on Saturday, then dodged the inevitable comparisons to William Green.
He did pretty well with both.
"Lee's making it look easy," said Browns lineman Ross Verba. "He reminds me of [Packers running back] Dorsey Levens in his prime. Except he's even better. He's even more fluid."
Suggs ran six times for 63 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Browns to a 17-10 exhibition win over the visiting Lions.
Green, the former first-round pick who was suspended for the second half of last season, added six carries for 24 yards.
Both backs are trying to be the starter for the opening game against Baltimore. Does Saturday's performance give Suggs the early lead?
"I don't know," he said, smiling. "I think the whole team took a step forward today. We played a lot better than last week."
Well, after losing 24-3 to the Titans, they couldn't have played much worse. But his point stands. The Browns did look better.
"Everyone was embarrassed and disappointed by the way we played a week ago," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "Instead of talking about what we were going to do, everyone showed up and went to work and made things happen."
Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia fumbled the snap on the game's third play and the ball was recovered by Detroit lineman Shaun Rogers on Cleveland's 34. Seven plays later, Lions quarterback Joey Harrington hit wideout Charles Rogers on a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
"I felt the ball drop under me," Browns center Jeff Faine said of the fumble. "It's a pretty bad feeling when it happens. But me and Jeff have been pretty good. That's probably the first bad snap all camp. It's not a problem, it's just one of those things that happens."
Off and running
The Browns responded quickly, as Dee Brown returned Detroit's kickoff 56 yards to the Lions' 41. Eight plays later, Suggs scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7. The touchdown was set up by a nifty 25-yard pass from Garcia to rookie tight end Kellen Winslow on third and 13.
"He's an exceptional talent," Garcia said of Winslow, who was not available to the media for the second-straight week. "He creates mismatches on the field and I think we can take advantage of his athletic ability. He's only going to get better."
The Browns made it 14-7 on their next drive as Suggs capped his afternoon with a 15-yard touchdown run with 9:31 left in the second quarter.
"[Suggs] is making some great runs," said Faine. "Not taking anything away from William Green, but Lee hit a couple home runs to finish off two great drives."
Garcia finished 5 of 7 for 55 yards against a Lions defense missing all four of its starting defensive backs. Garcia, who was sacked twice by the Titans, was sacked once on Saturday and faced pressure on several plays.
"Running has not been the problem, it has been pass protection," Faine said. "We still have some things to iron out, but we will keep growing and improving together."
Browns backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb finished 4 of 6 for 31 yards as Cleveland had more yards rushing (143) than passing (122).
"We ran the ball well," Davis said. "We still have to be able to throw the ball more effectively."
Maybe the highlight of the game was the play of the Cleveland's special teams. Gerard Warren blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt in the opening seconds of the second quarter and Lions kicker Chris Snyder later missed a 38-yarder in the third quarter.
"All three phases of our team played well in the first half," Davis said. "[But] special teams was clearly the difference in this ball game."