washingtonpost.com  > Print Edition > Sports > Articles Inside Sports

Browns Get Back, Go Forward

Suggs's Impressive Return Takes Pressure Off Garcia

By Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 4, 2004; Page D16

CLEVELAND, Oct. 3 -- The season-ending injury suffered by Kellen Winslow Jr. has gotten the big news nationally, but it was a player returning from injury that had the Cleveland Browns excited all last week.

Lee Suggs, the second-year running back from Virginia Tech, missed the first three games of the season because of a shoulder injury he suffered at the end of the preseason. But he certainly showed no ill-effects from it Sunday, rushing 22 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland's 17-13 victory over the Washington Redskins. It was the first rushing touchdown by a Browns running back this season, and it was enough to excite even the Browns' defensive players.


Cleveland running back Lee Suggs (22 carries, 82 yards) points out the importance of his fourth-quarter touchdown. (Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

Game Day: Browns 17, Redskins 13
 Brunell
Fumbles by Clinton Portis and Laveranues Coles prove costly and the Redskins fall to 1-3 for the season.
Michael Wilbon: It's going to take Joe Gibbs a while.
News Graphic: Anemic offensive numbers tell the story so far.
Gibbs is alarmed by the propensity for turnovers and penalties.
Ground game fails to click, with Clinton Portis held to 58 yards.
News Graphic: Offensive numbers only slightly better than last season.
Lee Suggs's return takes the pressure off Cleveland's Jeff Garcia.
Notebook: Kick returner Chad Morton held out of Sunday.
Play of the Game: Coles fumbles late, sealing Redskins' fate.
Best & Worst

_____ On Our Site _____
Photos
Summary
Grade the Redskins.
Talk about the game.
 Postgame Quiz
Got game? Don't let any technological breakdowns keep you from our postgame quiz.

_____ E-mail Newsletter _____
Newsletter

Looking for Redskins coverage you can't find anywhere else? Sign up for our free e-mail newsletter.

_____ NFL Insider _____
Post's Mark Maske on all things NFL -- only on washingtonpost.com.


_____NFL Basics_____
Scoreboard
Standings
Statistics
Team index
NFL Section
_____Browns Basics_____
Browns page
Roster
Schedule
Player stats
Opponent comparison

Suggs's first run from scrimmage went for 25 yards. "As soon as he did that, I thought, 'Uh-oh, it's back on now,' " said defensive lineman Kenard Lang, a former Redskin. "To come off an injury and do something like that on his first play -- that was beautiful."

Browns Coach Butch Davis likened Suggs's successful return to a basketball player getting hot. He hadn't planned to call Suggs's number 22 times in his first game back. "But he got hot," Davis said. "He got hot and we kept feeding the hot hand."

And that's no small development on a team with no star wide receiver and one already missing its tight end, Winslow, whose knee injury suffered against the Cowboys two weeks ago plunged the team and the city into despair.

"He did a great job of finding the creases [in the Redskins defense]," quarterback Jeff Garcia said of Suggs's running. "He utilized the blocking of the fullback and created some positive runs. It is exciting to finally have our backfield at full strength. With William Green and Lee Suggs sharing the load, it creates a great situation for this offense."

Suggs, 24, told the coaches he wanted to play a week ago, but Davis told him no. "I did not even think about the shoulder after the first play," Suggs said. "If felt fine, so I just forgot about it. I felt normal from the get-go. As soon as I got into the game I had a few pass protections to ease me back into things. It was the first time I really ran the ball in a month. My eyes were going everywhere and I was real hyped up and excited."

Green didn't carry the ball much; he rushed only four times for 17 yards. But the Browns' coaches like the idea of pounding the ball and taking some of the pressure off Garcia, who had to throw only 21 times. He completed 14 and had a passer rating of 112.2. "I think we have the best 1-2 punch in the league at running back," Browns linebacker Kevin Bentley said. "Both could be starters. Both have ability. And the thing that works to our advantage is, how do you prepare for two guys who can do the things they can do? As a defender, I know how difficult it is to prepare for two guys."

It was difficult enough for the Redskins to prepare for Suggs alone because he hadn't played in the first three games. From now on, the Browns may look a little different on offense, as long as Green and Suggs are healthy. "We need to utilize the backs out of the backfield even more than we do," Garcia said.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company