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Banged-up Browns faced with game-time decisions

| Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Browns coach Romeo Crennel has several lineup decisions to make Sunday against New Orleans, particularly concerning his banged-up secondary.

Cornerback Gary Baxter and Leigh Bodden, both with strained pectoral muscles, are expected to play. But cornerback Daylon McCutcheon is out after knee surgery.

But the status of starting free safety Brian Russell is less certain. Russell had minor surgery on his elbow last week and Crennel said Friday that he'll play only if his stitches are healed.

If Russell is unavailable, that leaves a tandem of Sean Jones and Brodney Pool at the safety positions. Neither has made an NFL start.

Crennel also hasn't made decisions at center, inside linebacker and backup quarterback.

He won't decide until Sunday whether recently acquired Lennie Friedman or even more recently acquired Hank Fraley will start at center.

Fraley expressed comfort with learning the Browns' system.

"I definitely want to start, but it's whatever the coaches' decisions are," Fraley said. "Lennie has been playing well. He's been here a little longer than I have -- just a couple days."

The center position has been in flux since Pro Bowl free agent LeCharles Bentley's season-ending knee injury on the Browns' first contact play of training camp.

The Browns will give Philadelphia a sixth- or seventh-round pick in 2008 in exchange for Fraley, depending on whether he becomes a starter, general manager Phil Savage said Friday.

"We probably feel better about the position at this point than we did at any point in the preseason," Savage said.

The Browns still haven't indicated whether Derek Anderson or Ken Dorsey will back up quarterback Charlie Frye. Savage praised Anderson for improving during the preseason and putting up points on four consecutive drives.

Either rookie D'Qwell Jackson or Chaun Thompson will start at inside linebacker opposite Andra Davis. Crennel said both have performed well and it's a decision he could make after practice Friday.

Cleveland's long list of injuries for Sunday's game including the following players as questionable: OL Joe Andruzzi (ankle), TE Darnell Dinkins (knee), OL Nat Dorsey (ankle), DB Antonio Perkins (groin), OL Isaac Sowells (ankle) and LB Mason Unck (knee).

The Browns also announced they reached an injury settlement Thursday with running back William Green, who had been placed on injured reserve. Green is now free to sign with another team or could re-sign with the Browns midway through the season.

Savage said the organization grew weary of waiting for Green and Lee Suggs to show some reliability.

"They both had the ability to do it but they could never sustain it over any length of time," he said.

He added that Jason Wright won the backup running back spot because of his consistency through training camp and the preseason.

"We chose dependability over pure ability," he said. Additional Information:

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