Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Where does it all end?

No one is shocked anymore when a Browns offensive lineman is lost to injury. It's been a rite of passage every year since the team re-entered the league.
But this year is shaping up to be particularly bad.
Nine-year veteran Bob Hallen was supposed to be the jack-of-all-trades backup for the interior line, the guy you sign in case someone like LeCharles Bentley is lost for the season.
But now the Browns need to replace the replacement. What appeared to be a simple case of back spasms for Hallen has now apparently morphed into a serious problem.
Hallen went AWOL from Browns camp Tuesday, winging it back home to San Diego to get a second opinion on his back after he apparently heard some unsettling news from his initial examination. He also apparently has some "personal" issues he needs to address, coach Romeo Crennel told reporters.
Hallen had a history of back problems while playing for the Chargers, but of course the whole thing is bound to unravel on the Browns' watch.
The Browns placed him on the inactive list Tuesday, and Crennel told reporters Hallen might be contemplating retirement.
I, for one, don't think it will surprise anybody if Hallen never suits up again. That's just the way it's been going for the Browns.
First, Cleveland native Bentley. Now, Mentor native Hallen. That's two Cleveland-area guys fallen by the wayside for the Browns in the span of two weeks. Another area boy, Joe Jurevicius, is battling a sore back he might have injured in a practice scuffle. Willard native Charlie Frye is competing with a sore throwing thumb he accidentally whacked on a teammate's helmet during a drill.
What's the over/under on when Bay Village native Dave Zastudil is going to dislocate a hip making a punt?
The Browns now turn to free-agent signee Alonzo Ephraim to snap the ball and prevent 300-pound defensive linemen from grinding Frye's bones into dust. Ephraim was signed July 30 after the Bentley injury. My guess is that there are going to be more than a few fumbled snaps during the preseason.
GM Phil Savage is doing his best to try and spackle holes in the badly-leaking dam. He has traded a seventh-round pick to the Patriots for center Ross Tucker, who likely won't be ready for Thursday's preseason opener against the Eagles.
In speaking of the Eagles, the Browns reportedly might also be interested in trading for center Hank Fraley, who was recently demoted to second string. The Eagles could be interested in a Browns running back like Lee Suggs or William Green.
But no matter what the Browns do, it never seems to be enough. They haven't even played a down of preseason football yet. It's scary to think of all the opportunities there are going to be for players to get hurt.

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