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Steelers cramming for Cribbs

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Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010

Joshua Cribbs can return punts.

Joshua Cribbs can return kicks.

He's not too bad of a receiver, either, and he has proved to be a pretty good at running the Wildcat offense.

But Cribbs as an every down quarterback for four quarters?

Well, with the instability of the Cleveland quarterback situation heading into Sunday's game at Heinz Field against the Steelers, nothing can be disregarded.

"Well, he did it last year and damn near killed us," linebacker James Farrior said.

Although Cleveland coach Eric Mangini is leaning toward rookie Colt McCoy starting at quarterback because of injuries to Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme, Cribbs may be the Browns' best option against the Steelers.

The former Kent State quarterback turned NFL return specialist and now Cleveland cult hero is confident he could be under center for the Browns for more than a handful of Wildcat plays.

"It is a full package," Cribbs said. "It is not like last year. It is more than enough to run a complete football game out of it."

The Steelers can attest to what Cribbs offers when he comes into the game as a quarterback.

"Last year, he had our number," linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. "We have to stay in our gaps and contain him. If he gets a crease, he is going to take it to the house."

Cribbs lined up in the Wildcat for eight of Cleveland first 14 offensive plays last year at Heinz Field. He ended up taking 13 snaps from center, rushing six times for 45 yards and handing off the other seven times.

In the game at Cleveland, Cribbs ran for 87 yards, including a 37-yarder that set up the only touchdown of the game in a 13-6 Browns win.

"He's done pretty well against us in the past," linebacker James Harrison said. "We haven't really had a solid answer for it yet. We are expecting to get that."

Can Cribbs take every series under center, either by choice or by necessity?

"Heck, yeah," safety Ryan Clark said. "It would be tough to play him like that, but it would be fun. I don't know about throwing, but I know he can break enough tackles and make enough plays to keep you honest."

Cribbs ran the ball only 11 times in five games so far this year as the ground game with Peyton Hillis has been solid. The most carries Cribbs has had in one game this year has been three.

"It would make sense that I would (get more chances), but you never know," Cribbs said. "That's not my call. Whenever we call it, I am prepared to run it and take advantage of the opportunity."

Mangini would like to use Cribbs more, especially against the Steelers, but his other responsibilities have gotten in the way of that up until now.

"He is a special guy with the ball," Mangini said. "He does have the kickoff return, the punt return, and he is playing a decent amount of receiver, so we also have to monitor his reps for him to be effective."

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