Running back Steve Slaton could be in for another big day against the Browns, says Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Tony Grossi.
Cleveland Browns beat writer Tony Grossi of The Cleveland Plain Dealer joined Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com for an exclusive interview to preview the Week 12 matchup between the Texans (3-7) and Browns (4-6) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Grossi has been covering the Browns and NFL for The Plain Dealer since 1984. He also does analysis on WKYC Channel 3 and SportsTimeOhio cable. Grossi has been on the NFL Hall of Fame selection committee for 12 years.
Nick Scurfield:The Browns and Texans both entered this season with high expectations. How has coach Romeo Crennel kept his team focused in what has been a disappointing season?
Tony Grossi: Players like and respect Crennel a lot. They know if they don't win for him, he'll lose his job. That motivates them not to let the season get out of control.
Nick Scurfield: After the Browns had trouble finishing games all season, what did the last-minute win over the Bills do for the team's confidence?
Tony Grossi: Sure, it helps them get through this week a lot easier than the last two. But I think they realize that they didn't exactly "finish" that game defensively. I mean, if (Bills kicker Rian) Lindell's FG goes through at the end, they would have blown a third straight game with a 13-point lead, or more.
Nick Scurfield:A lot of the talk in Houston this week has been about Shaun Rogers at the nose tackle position. What kind of an impact does he have on the Cleveland defense?
Tony Grossi: Rogers has been awesome. I've seen him tackle a ball-carrier while sandwiched between two offensive linemen -- he just reached out and brought the guy down. The surprising thing to me is that Rogers' great play at the nose has not had the expected domino effect on the linebackers and the secondary. Rogers is the only player having a good year on defense.
Nick Scurfield: How would you assess Brady Quinn's progress through two games as the starting quarterback?
Tony Grossi: He has been excellent, I think. You watch him and he looks like a polished NFL vet. The offense has been crisper with him in there, no delays, false starts, unnecessary timeouts. He has a great feel for the pocket and the charisma of a true leader. I want to see him be a field general -- do the things necessary to win a game, pull off a game-winning drive, that maybe go against the grain. Like audibilizing to runs when he sees plays there, etc.
Nick Scurfield: If Kellen Winslow misses this Sunday's game, how much would that affect Quinn? A tight end is often a young quarterback's best friend.
Tony Grossi: The Browns are 2-0 with Winslow not playing, 2-6 with him. They have one of the best-kept secrets in TE Steve Heiden, but they don't throw to him with Winslow on the field. Winslow is a demanding presence on the field.
Nick Scurfield: The Browns allow 149.3 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league. How do you expect the Texans' tandem of Steve Slaton and Ahman Green to fare in this game?
Tony Grossi: I expect they would combine for 150 yards, or more.
Nick Scurfield: In what areas do the Texans present the biggest challenges for the Browns?
Tony Grossi: They can really hurt the Browns if Slaton is successful and (Sage) Rosenfels is able to throw downfield to Andre Johnson. The Browns' tackling has been shoddy and their play in the secondary has been downright destructive. Houston can have a big game, offensively.
Nick Scurfield: What's your prediction for the score?
Tony Grossi: I may change this for my official prediction in The Plain Dealer. But I'm expecting lots of points, even in expected bad weather. I think I'll go with Browns 31, Texans 24.
*To read Grossi's comprehensive Browns coverage on *The Cleveland Plain Dealer *website, click here.