The Cleveland Browns wanted to be patient with Bernie Kosar. Go with veteran Gary Danielson as starting quarterback, the plan went, and wait for the rookie shivers to subside for Kosar. It was to be the antithesis of the too-much, too-soon Elway Experiment in Denver three years ago.
That plan was revised Sunday, however, when Danielson suffered an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder against New England, and Kosar entered with a 14-10 second-quarter lead.
"(Team owner) Art Modell, Paul Warfield (a club executive) and I kind of looked at each other in the owner's box. It was like, 'Well, this is it,' " Ernie Accorsi, Browns' executive vice president/football operations, said yesterday. "You knew this was coming, you just didn't know when. And this wasn't a 35-0 game. It was 14-10. There was anticipation for us, not fear."
Kosar -- a bonus baby with a contract worth $5 million over five years -- fumbled his first snap for a turnover, then completed seven straight passes and led the Browns to a come-from-behind 24-20 victory. He finished nine of 15 for 104 yards with one interception.
"It couldn't have happened any better," Accorsi said. "It was a tight game, a pressure game. We lost the lead, but Bernie was poised and brought us back.
"That we went to Bernie instead of (veteran) Paul McDonald shows we weren't pampering him and that we weren't overprotective of him."
Yesterday, it was determined that Danielson did not suffer a dislocation, merely a deep bruise. Coach Marty Schottenheimer says Danielson, a nine-year veteran, will start Sunday at Houston, if he is able.
Danielson's sense of humor spiraled as well as ever yesterday. He said, "How long will I be out? Well, that depends. It could be either a week or 15 years, depending on what Bernie does against the Oilers."
San Diego Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow is expected to practice today for the first time since tearing two knee ligaments last season. Although he is eligible to be activated this week, a club spokesman said yesterday no one is certain when Winslow (399 career catches) will return . . .
NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle will decide over the next few days whether to create a special supplemental draft for Kenneth Davis, the Texas Christian running back who was suspended Sept. 20 after he admitted he had accepted illegal payments from a school booster. The NFL, in what is commonly known as the "Red Grange Rule," prohibits players from playing in college and pro games in the same season. Davis, who along with agent Mike Trope met with Rozelle yesterday in New York, played two games for TCU this season. Trope has threatened to sue if Rozelle doesn't allow Davis into the NFL this year . . .
How about the Chicago Bears at 5-0 although running back Walter Payton is averaging just 13 carries for 58 yards per game? Is it possible that wide receivers Dennis McKinnon and Willie Gault have been even sweeter than Sweetness himself? McKinnon has caught a league-best seven touchdown passes, and Gault has produced four plays of 43 yards or longer.
And it seems that Bears rookie defensive tackle William Perry has a new nickname. His royal Refrigerator -- who has made six tackles in spot service over five games -- "is just a big puppy," according to all-pro defensive tackle Dan Hampton.
And Perry's new nickname?
" 'Biscuit,' " says Hampton. "Because when he got here we figured he was just a biscuit under 350 (pounds)."
The best contributor from the U.S. Football League has been, without question, Cleveland running back Kevin Mack (L.A. Express). Mack has two straight 100-yard rushing games and yesterday was named AFC player of the week. Mack's five-game totals: 356 yards rushing and 20 receptions.
The smallest contributor from the USFL? Perhaps it's San Diego receiver Trumaine Johnson (Arizona Outlaws), who has caught only one pass and is nursing a hamstring injury, or perhaps it's Houston running back Mike Rozier (Jacksonville Bulls), who has run for just 97 yards in 34 carries, an un-Heisman Trophy-like 2.9 yards per carry.