Yesterday, in anticipation of opening day at Cleveland Browns Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, the Browns’ players chose this season’s Team captains. Left tackle Pro Bowler Joe Thomas and veteran running back Jamal Lewis are the offensive captains. Veteran linebacker Eric Barton and leading tackler LB D’Qwell Jackson are the defensive captains. Kicker specialist Phil Dawson and receiver and return talent Josh Cribbs are the special teams captains.
Team captains are more than just symbolic observers of coin tosses. They have a lot of responsibility in terms of being a conduit between the roster and the coaches. They are expected to be leaders on and off the field.
These are great choices. Thomas is the most solid player on the squad. Jamal is in his 10th season and has shown an ability to mentor younger players like rookie RB James Davis. Jackson does not get enough credit for his tackling ability and the respect that he generates from the other defensive players. Barton knows Mangini and is in his 11th season. Dawson is also in his 11th year, and his performance on the field as a clutch kicker speaks for itself. The selection of Cribbs is not only a reflection of his passion and his versatility but a reward for his enhanced role this season and an olive branch to squelch any bitterness that may linger regarding the contract issue.
On some other notes, a Browns insider has confirmed that Rogers will play against the Vikings. No surprise there. It is quite obvious that, whatever was wrong with his foot, injury was not the main reason why Shaun was relieved of playing in the pre-season. He hardly needs the warm-ups. The guy is a nosetackle through and through, and in our opinion right up there with Thomas in terms of the very best players on the Team. Mangini gave his knees a rest so that the beast could be unveiled when the money is on the line.
Congratulations to Dino Lucarelli who will be an honorary coin toss captain on opening day. At 75 years of age and having just retired, Dino worked for the Browns for 35 years. He deserves some appreciation on Sunday.
It has been reported that someone placed a walker beside Favre’s locker as a joke. I watched an interview with Troy Aikman on NFL Network who commented that Favre’s health is the main concern – his ability to take the punishment and keep truckin week in, week out (remember that Troy is only a couple of years older than Brett). Let’s give Favre a rude welcome back from retirement by giving him a close-up of the grass at CBS on Sunday.
Go Browns! (I will let Steve predict the score; but I am prepared to go out on a “loyalty limb” and say the Browns win by 7 points or less).