Aching Browns ready as can be

Updated: October 23, 2003, 5:55 PM ET

BEREA, Ohio -- Right tackle Ryan Tucker is the last Browns' offensive lineman still standing. But he's got crutches in his locker just in case.

"I'm a little banged up," Tucker said Thursday.

Join the club. The Browns (3-4) will collectively limp to this Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. On Thursday, only a few players were in the locker room during the half-hour devoted to interviews.

That's because many of them were in the trainer's room getting medical treatment.

Among the Browns' bandaged and bruised are: running back William Green (shoulder), defensive lineman Gerard Warren (thumb), quarterback Kelly Holcomb (leg) and four offensive linemen.

"You just have to tough it out," Tucker said. "Right now, that's all we can do."

Tucker, who is nursing an injured chest muscle and a sprained right knee, is the sole survivor from a Browns' offensive line that has been dropping parts since the preseason.

The first to fall was left tackle Ross Verba, who sustained a torn biceps in the final exhibition game and was lost for the season. His replacement, Barry Stokes, played for weeks on a severely sprained right ankle that got much worse last Sunday.

Stokes has been fitted with a cast to keep it immobilized, and he took the practice field Thursday riding a motorized cart.

Center Jeff Faine and left guard Shaun O'Hara missed last week's game with knee injuries and are questionable for Sunday.

Last week, Chad Beasley made his first career start in place of O'Hara, and Melvin Fowler started for Faine. Beasley and Fowler could be in again, and if Stokes can't play, Joaquin Gonzalez will make his first career start.

Tucker doesn't feel isolated, though, despite being the only true starter left. He has confidence in the backups.

"They're here for a reason," he said. "They're good football players. It's not like these guys haven't played or can't play. Every one of them brings something to the table. Last week they played outstanding and I know they will again."

Last week, Tucker appeared to be hurt seriously. Hunched over in pain, he hobbled to the sideline when the Browns were about to punt, but he was back out there without missing a play.

"It wasn't broken, and that's the determining factor for me," he said. "It's not a concern right now. With as many guys as we have on the shelf, it should be, but it's not my main concern. My main concern is winning games."

Tucker said he still doesn't know who he will be lining up with Sunday.

"I don't have a clue," he said.

Before Thursday's practice, Cleveland's quarterbacks were also in the dark as Tim Couch and Holcomb awaited word from coach Butch Davis.

Couch has started the past four weeks while Holcomb recovered from a broken right leg, but he was pulled in the third quarter last week after throwing two interceptions.

With Holcomb closer to being 100 percent after tearing ligaments in his right ankle and fracturing his right fibula in a Sept. 21 game, Couch may be back on the sideline.

Davis continued his public silence on the matter, saying he'll make his announcement an hour before kickoff.

Couch said if he does get another start, he's hoping Davis allows him to finish it. He doesn't want to be on a short leash in the event things don't go well. It's tough knowing your next pass could be your last.

"I try not to think about it," he said. "I try to go out and play aggressive and play well. You just have to think about what's out in front of you."<

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index