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Baxter is latest Browns player injured



Published: Mon, October 23, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cleveland's best remaining cornerback hurt his knee jumping to make play.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

CLEVELAND -- With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Browns cornerback Gary Baxter ran stride-for-stride with Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker down the sideline as Denver quarterback Jake Plummer fired a deep ball deep into Cleveland territory.

Just before the ball arrived, Baxter planted his foot awkwardly before jumping up to make a play. The pass fell incomplete, but Baxter immediately grabbed his left knee.

It's a sign of how bad things are going for the Browns that their best remaining cornerback could suffer a knee injury on a play where he wasn't even touched.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel didn't know how bad the injury was -- "He's being evaluated and we'll know more on his status later on," he said -- but Baxter was carted off the field and didn't return.

With Leigh Bodden already out with an ankle injury, Crennel was forced to play backup corners Daven Holly and Ralph Brown.

"That hurts some, but I thought the guys that came in fought pretty well and hung in there," said Crennel. "Ralph Brown had his hands on a couple balls that could've made a difference, but you play the hand you are dealt."

Already lost pair

Cleveland, which was coming off a bye week, was already missing wide receiver Dennis Northcutt and, of course, center LeCharles Bentley, who tore tendons in his knee this summer. Crennel revealed earlier in the week that Bentley's rehab hasn't gone well.

Several other players are less than 100 percent, including guards Cosey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi, who have struggled this season.

Tight end Kellen Winslow, whose knee has bothered him since returning from off-season ACL surgery, seemed to get injured in the fourth quarter on a low hit by a Denver defender. Winslow insisted he's fine, but he was seen rubbing a large bruise on his thigh in the locker room after the game.

Making things worse, quarterback Charlie Frye left Sunday's game momentarily with a mild concussion. Given Frye's fearlessness and Cleveland's porous offensive line, it may only be a matter of time before Frye is seriously injured.

"There's a lot of football left to play," Crennel said. "One of the things I talked about in the locker room [after the game] was that we need to stay together and continue to work hard."

scalzo@vindy.com




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