When it rains, it pours for injured, struggling Browns

BEREA, Ohio -- All the injuries to the Cleveland Browns have left coach Eric Mangini starting over this season.

"Some stuff you do have to spend time on you wouldn't typically," Mangini said. "Like learning guys' names. We've had quite a few new faces come through."

More could be on the way.

The Browns (1-10) could be down as many as five defensive starters from last week when they face the San Diego Chargers (8-3) on Sunday. Defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman's right knee injury has him out, cornerback Eric Wright was listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report with a sore left hamstring and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was unsure if his knee will allow him to play.

Coleman needs to wear a brace just to walk. Wright walked without a limp, but he said he injured the hamstring during practice Thursday and wasn't sure if he could play. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was more optimistic.

"I'm counting on him," Ryan said. "I'm hoping he can be ready to go. With their receiving corps, we need Wright, no question."

The Browns already have placed Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers and safety Brodney Pool on injured reserve this week, along with Pro Bowl running back Jamal Lewis. Now they could be without their best cornerback as they face a San Diego passing attack that ranks ninth in the NFL. Wright and Pool have combined for all six of the Cleveland defense's interceptions this season.

The injuries to the secondary are forcing wide receiver Mike Furrey into a more prominent role on defense. Furrey has frequently played as a nickel back, but he could be in line to start at safety Sunday.

"I've been picking up the defense pretty well over the last six or seven weeks," Furrey said. "With the injuries in the secondary this week, you have to be ready to play in case something else happens. I feel really comfortable."

Wimbley hasn't missed a game because of injury since his senior year at Florida State in 2005, when he sat out four games with a sprained knee. He practiced for the first time this week Friday and was upgraded from doubtful to questionable.

"It was a good start, but we still have to see where it's at," Wimbley said. "It all depends on how I feel later on."

Ryan said from the start of the season until now, Wright is the only defensive starter to remain in the same place every week.

"And now he's on a bicycle," Ryan said.

Ryan joked he might call on old pal and Kettering Alter High School coach Ed Domsitz for a few healthy bodies. Alter plays in an Ohio state championship game Saturday.

"I may have to call him to get some reinforcements," Ryan said. "His team always seems to win."

The Browns have done little of that this season, and the recent injuries aren't helping. The team enters Sunday's game ranked 29th against the run and 31st in total defense.

"Our guys love to play," Ryan said. "We have some empty seats in the defensive room, but we have a lot of heart in there. I hate the Detroit game (a 38-37 loss) because that wasn't us. We're starting to play better, we're starting to fight.

"We had that one (bad) game, but we're starting to understand what we've got to do. These guys prepare every week harder than most teams I've ever been around. The thing I've been impressed with is how hard they're working to win. No one wants to hear it as fans, but it's the truth."

Those fans will be able to see their beleaguered Browns. The team avoided a blackout for Sunday's game by joining with a television station and several local businesses to guarantee a sellout.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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