Cribbs defends Edwards' hit against him, should play for Browns

BEREA, Ohio -- Josh Cribbs' neck is still a little sore, but he doesn't mind sticking it out for Baltimore Ravens defensive end Dwan Edwards.

Cribbs said Friday that he expects to play in the Cleveland Browns' game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, which will be six days after he was strapped to a backboard and wheeled into an ambulance following a loss to the Ravens.

Browns coach Eric Mangini said Friday that he also expects Cribbs to play.

The NFL fined Edwards $5,000 this week for smashing a forearm under Cribbs' chin on the Monday night game's final play. Cribbs had pitched the ball away on a lateral and admitted he had relaxed a bit when Edwards hit him. As a result, Cribbs defended Edwards on Friday.

"I don't feel he should've been fined for it," Cribbs said. "It's football. Just as he hit me, I could've hit him blocking for my guy. It happened during the play between the whistles. They have rules in place to protect players, but I don't think it was intentional at all."

After a series of tests, Cribbs was diagnosed with a sprained neck.

Cribbs' fearlessness has turned the undrafted free agent into a Pro Bowl player and one of the NFL's most dangerous return specialists. He insists that won't change now.

"It's going to take a lot to keep me out of the game," Cribbs said. "I love it too much. They'd have to take my gear away for me not to play.

"You expect situations like that, and I just pray and hope I won't end up on the wrong side of it. Things worked out for me this time. I'm going to try to be more aware."

Cribbs has played this season despite wanting a new contract. His agent, J.R. Rickert, blasted the Browns this week for leaving in Cribbs -- arguably the team's best offensive threat -- for the final play of a game they had no chance to win. Cribbs has done everything the Browns have asked this season while hoping the two sides can work out a new deal soon.

Monday's hit has left Cribbs especially irritated that there has been little movement in negotiations.

"This is the exact thing I worry about," Cribbs said. "We're going to make sure we get that handled because it really is a touchy subject for me now. It put a lot of things into perspective getting hurt like that and (knowing) it possibly could have been worse."

Cribbs expects to handle all his regular duties Sunday in the game between two 1-8 teams. Losing Cribbs on offense would have been another devastating blow to a Cleveland team that has scored just five touchdowns in its last 15 games -- the fewest in a 15-game span since 1950. The drought is magnified by the fact that no Browns receiver has scored since Nov. 2, 2008, and no running back has scored since Nov. 17 of last year.

"It's not to the point where you're going to be hiding under the table," Browns first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "You can't do that. You have to wake up the next day and fight.

"I live this. It's not good enough. I'm the leader of these guys. It's got to be better on my part. They understand what they need to do, too. We're collectively working toward getting that better."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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