Coach challenges more serious diagnosis

Originally Published: September 14, 2004
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns running back Lee Suggs has been cleared by doctors to return to practice this week. However, there is still some haziness about his medical condition.

Cleveland coach Butch Davis said team doctors gave Suggs the OK to resume workouts Wednesday as the Browns (1-0) prepare to play at Dallas this weekend.

Lee Suggs

"Dramatically better," Davis said when asked about Suggs' status. "He has made good strides."

Suggs missed Sunday's season opener against Baltimore with a neck stinger he sustained two weeks ago in practice when he fell over an offensive lineman during a drill.

On Monday, Davis challenged a recent ESPN report that said the Browns are being extra cautious with Suggs because he has stenosis, a narrowing of the spine that causes pressure on the cord and nerves.

Davis also revealed that Suggs had recently visited a specialist in New York for a further diagnosis.

When Suggs was leaving Virginia Tech to enter the NFL draft, there were concerns that he had stenosis, Davis said. However, team doctors did not think he had the condition when they examined Suggs at the league combine in Indianapolis.

But after Suggs sustained the stinger Sept. 1, a nerve injury that causes numbness and tingling in the arms, the Browns sent the 24-year-old to see a specialist the next day for another opinion.

"The doctor came back and said those earlier reports out of Virginia Tech are totally erroneous, and that he doesn't have it [stenosis]," Davis said. "He did have the stinger and it did cause weakness in his shoulder."

Davis added that Suggs has regained strength in his shoulder but he still needs to improve for doctors to declare him game ready.

"He has to carry the ball and take a blow on the shoulder and when the level of strength gets back to enough that he can take a hit and not fumble and not have a recurring issue, they're going to turn him loose to play," Davis said.

The stenosis rumors may have contributed to Suggs sliding to the fourth round of the 2003 draft.

He emerged as the Browns' top back following a solid training camp. The speedy 6-foot, 210-pound Suggs led the team in rushing during the preseason and had seemingly beaten out William Green for the starting job before getting hurt.

With Suggs unable to play against the Ravens, Green gained 65 yards on 22 carries and caught four passes for 27 yards as the Browns beat Baltimore 20-3 for their first opening-week win since coming back to the league in 1999.

It was Green's first game since last Oct. 19. He missed the final eight games after failing the league's substance-abuse policy.

Also, Davis said Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who sustained a strained pectoral muscle in the first quarter against Baltimore and didn't return, is expected to play Sunday.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press