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Browns' defensive tackle Orpheus Roye to undergo knee surgery

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -One of Orpheus Roye's creaky, cranky knees needs more off-field maintenance.

Cleveland's defensive end will have arthroscopic surgery Thursday on his right knee, an early training camp setback for the Browns, who may be without their best lineman to start the season.

The 34-year-old Roye has been playing with pain on aching knees for several years.

He missed the final five games last season with a knee injury that required surgery this winter.

During the first week of training camp, Roye was bothered by a "clicking" sound in the knee, coach Romeo Crennel said following practice on Wednesday morning. Crennel described Roye's injury as loose cartilage, but said it was in a different place in the knee than where Roye was troubled last season.

"He has some issues with both of his knees," Crennel said. "It (his right knee) bears a bit more weight so we're going to go ahead and get it cleaned out. Last year or the year before, he went through a season with some cartilage that was loose but he worked through it and struggled through it.

"We feel like we want to go ahead and get it cleaned out. We're going to try and get him back for the regular season."

The Browns, hoping to compete in the rugged AFC North after a 4-12 season, open on Sept. 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roye's team for four seasons before he signed with Cleveland as a free agent in 2000.

Roye made it through the first three days of practice without a problem, but he left the field during Monday's morning session. He returned in the afternoon and was out there again on Tuesday before the Browns decided to take a closer look at his knee.

"We're not giving him a cane, a walking boot or immobilize the leg," Crennel said. "They (doctors) are going to clean the joint out. There's some loose cartilage so they're going to clean it out. It's a normal procedure in football."

The Browns have had several injuries the past few seasons. They finished last season with 14 players, including Roye, on injured reserve.

Although he has been hampered by bad knees the past few seasons, Roye has been one of the Browns' most durable players. Following games, he was often one of the last to leave Cleveland's locker room, often limping badly as he left the stadium.

"Orpheus is the kind of guy that's a tough-minded individual and he'll do everything he can to get out on the football field," Crennel said. "If his body will allow him, he will be out there."

Crennel refused to guess how much Roye will be able to help the Browns in 2007.

"I'm not a doctor," he said. "I'm going to have to rely on them to tell me how much they clean out and what they anticipate for a recovery period."

Roye started all 16 games and had a career-high 95 tackles in 2005, and the Browns rewarded him with a three-year contract extension through the 2009 season.

His experience is vital in Cleveland's 3-4 defensive scheme, which puts a premium on its ends to rush the quarterback and contain the perimeter. The Browns' defense was ranked 29th against the run last season, and the team attempted to plug some holes up front by signing free-agent lineman Shaun Smith and Robaire Smith.

Shaun Smith, who played for Cincinnati last season, had been projected as Ted Washington's backup at nose tackle but will begin getting some time at end in Roye's spot. Crennel said Simon Fraser, J'Vonne Parker and Orien Harris also are in the mix.

"They'll all get some work and the guy that steps up the most is the guy we're going to use," Crennel said.

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