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Notebook: Browns release leading receiver Johnson

| Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2003

CLEVELAND -- Wide receiver Kevin Johnson was released Tuesday by the Cleveland Browns, one week after he was benched by coach Butch Davis.

Johnson, the club's leading receiver since 1999, had his starting job taken away by Davis, who was displeased with the five-year veteran's performance.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction," Davis said in a statement. "We have been trying for almost three seasons to help Kevin perform to the level of expectations we have had for him. I am disappointed our staff has not been able to get him to accept the expectations we have of how the wide receiver position should be played."

Johnson has had a strained relationship with Davis, who tried to trade the receiver as early 2001, his first year as Cleveland's coach.

The 27-year-old Johnson got on the field for a handful of plays in Sunday's 41-20 loss at Kansas City. He had one catch, giving him 73 straight games with a reception.

BOLLER HAS SURGERY

Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Kyle Boller underwent surgery on his left leg, but remains hopeful he can return this season.

Boller, injured in Sunday night's 33-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams, had surgery to repair a torn muscle in his quadriceps.

Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said Boller "could be ready to play in 4-6 weeks," and general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team does not plan to place Boller on injured reserve.

But the Ravens signed quarterback Ray Lucas as a backup to Chris Redman and Anthony Wright.

ANDERSON SUSPENDED

Broncos fullback Mike Anderson was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Anderson will lose about $317,000 of his $1.35 million salary and won't be eligible to return until after Denver's Dec. 8 game against Kansas City, the league said.

The NFL did not detail the violation.

Anderson told The Denver Post he tested positive for marijuana, but said he only inhaled secondhand smoke. He said he presented such evidence from a toxicologist in an appeal to the NFL.

"I'm very saddened by the decision made by the NFL," Anderson told the newspaper. "I know this has a tremendous negative impact on my team, my coaches, my family and fans."

SUSPENSION QUESTIONED

The NFL Players Association says the Cleveland Browns violated the collective bargaining agreement by suspending running back William Green for his arrest on charges of drunken driving and marijuana possession.

"We see this issue as falling under the substance abuse policy and the clubs don't have the right to suspend the player," NFLPA president Gene Upshaw said.

Upshaw said he expects a grievance to be filed against the Browns.

"They don't have the right to do what they did," he said.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Tight end Rickey Dudley signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after he was released by the team before the season. ... The Denver Broncos signed cornerback Ryan McNeil to fill an open roster spot. ... The Arizona Cardinals signed kicker Neil Rackers, one day after cutting Tim Duncan. ... The New York Giants lost starting cornerback William Peterson, a Laurel Highlands graduate, for the season when he was placed on injured reserve. Ike Charlton was signed to take Peterson's place on the roster.

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