The Cleveland Browns resent the experts "including us among the lumpies" in the preseason sizeups of National Football League teams.
Running back Greg Pruitt is suffering from an identity crisis. The Browns bill him as "Mr. Excitement," but he is complaining he does not get the exposure to the national media in Cleveland that he would in a city such as Los Angeles.
It could be a carryover from the attention he got in the Superstars competition on television. Publicity was not one of the Browns' problems when they used to come into Washington as a premier attraction in the days of fullback Jim Brown, or later with Leroy Kelly.
George Preston Marshall, owner of the Redskins, had to scratch for ticket buyers in the days before television and would warn the fans well ahead of time to make room in their budgets for the visits of the Browns.
The Browns play the Redskins Friday night at 7:30 in Washington's only exhibition game at home this season and the advance man for the Browns once more is able to say, "You are going to see one of the better running teams in the league on Friday night."
The Browns were banged up in their game against the swarming defense of the Detroit Lions led by defensive end Al Baker, yet they monopolized the ball for 79 running plays.
Now the Browns are relatively healthy and will throw Greg and Mike Pruitt at the Redskins in one wave and Calvin Hill and Cleo Miller in the next.
Cleveland had the fifth-best rushing team in the league in 1978, in an 8-8 season. Greg Pruitt played in only 10 games, but still managed 960 yards, the first time in four years he did not go over 1,000. Mike Pruitt gained 560.
Hill, at 31, was a sparkling contributor, while Pruitt was hurt last year, with his reckless running. Hill was newly appreciated as a pass receiver with 25 catches and a 13.4 yard receiving average.
Inadvertently, the Cleveland defense may spare the spectators from the low-entertainment prospect of an earthbound offense. "Our biggest minus has been the lack of a pass rush, Nat Wallack of the Brown staff says. "Our problem is Joe Theismann, Period.
"The Lions beat us on two touchdown passes and the third score was set up by a long pass. We had the 27th worst pass defense in the league last season.
The Browns have done something about the pass rush. They traded for defensive end Lyle Alzado of the Denver Broncos and defensive end Jack Gregory of the New York Giants, who began his career in Cleveland in 1967 and is now 34.
Cleveland began to light up the scoreboard under new coach Sam Rutigliano at the end of last season, averaging more than 30 points in the last five games and finishing fourth in overall offense in the American Conference.
The Browns drafted a blazer they hope will ignite the offense again, wide receiver Willis Adams of the University of Houston, who averaged 18.4 yards for 29 catches with his 4.4 speed at 40 yards. He is a flyer to remind Clevelanders of Paul Warfield.
In 1978, 232-pound tight end Ozzie Newsome justified his first-round selection by averaging 15.5 yards on 38 catches and 7.4 yards on 13 endaround sprints.
Wide receiver Reggie Rucker, a product of Anacostia High and Boston University, will give it an extra effort in front of his hometown fans. He averaged 20.8 yards on 43 catches.
With the good seasons by Newsome and Rucker, quarterback Brian Sipe enjoyed his best of five years in Cleveland, passing for 21 touchdowns. In fact, the Browns scored 17 touchdowns running and 22 passing, indicating they are not totally wedded to the uneventful strategy of possession football.
As to being grouped among the "lumpies," they note that their 8-8 record was achieved in the toughest division in the league, the AFC Central, and they would have been in the playoffs if they had won any two of the three games, against Houston (whom they played twice) and Pittsburgh (whom they met once).
The Browns lost by three and four points to Houston and were tied against Pittsburgh, 9-9, in overtime until a controversial call by game officials did them out of the recovery of a fumbled kickoff return deep in Pittsburgh territory.