Suggs, Green split carries in Game 4

Updated: October 7, 2004, 6:20 PM ET
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- Waiting has become a part-time job for Lee Suggs, one he'd like to quit for good.

Cleveland's speedy and soft-spoken running back has become increasingly impatient, and it's easy to see why. After sitting out the first three games with a neck injury, Suggs rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown in his season debut last week as the Browns beat Washington.

And now that the second-year back is finally healthy, Suggs is waiting to see if he'll make his first start in the NFL.

"Still (waiting)," Suggs said with a shrug Thursday as the Browns (2-2) prepared for this Sunday's game at Pittsburgh. "I want to start, yeah. I just want to play, most of all. But I would like to get that start."

Would it mean more if it came against the rival Steelers (3-1), currently leading the AFC North?

"I could care less," Suggs said. "I don't care who it is against."

Suggs' return has complicated things for Browns coach Butch Davis, who has to figure out how to split the carries between Suggs and William Green. It's a good problem to have -- to a point.

Davis has to balance keeping both players productive and positive about their roles. By favoring one over the other, Davis risks having a disgruntled player or two who don't know what they'll be doing from week to week.

Green, who rushed for 91 yards a week earlier against the New York Giants, only had four carries against the Redskins. He didn't get on the field in the second half as the Browns used Suggs exclusively.

On Wednesday, quarterback Jeff Garcia offered his opinion on how best to use the tandem.

"Maybe it's something that comes down to a 60-40 split or 70-30 split," Garcia said. "You have to go with the guy who can be the most productive for the team. Whoever that is, that's got to be the guy who gets the majority of the load, because he has to find a rhythm."

Asked for his take on Garcia's backfield plan, Davis didn't exactly reveal much.

"OK," was all Davis offered.

Green has kept a low profile this week. He didn't speak with reporters following last Sunday's game and shooed the media away from his locker a day later.

Suggs said he and Green have a good relationship but that the two have steered clear from talking about who's No. 1 and who's No. 2.

"Ain't no use in bringing it up," said Suggs, who added that Green is depressed by the possibility of playing less. "That goes without saying."

Before Thursday's practice, Suggs still was not sure how the playing time will be divided.

"I'm curious," he said. "I'm just waiting to find out. It's not my call."

Davis said it doesn't matter who starts and that both backs will get their share of work.

"It's going to be running back by committee," Davis said following Thursday's workout. "It doesn't matter who starts."

As time goes on, egos could be as big an obstacle as any linebacker. But Davis thinks both his backs have already adopted team-first attitudes.

"It shouldn't be a problem if the No. 1 objective is winning," he said.

Suggs played with a protective neck collar last week, which got wrenched during a practice last month. He came out of the game feeling fine but was sore Monday.

"Football-playing sore," he said with a smile.

Suggs was pleased with his performance last week, which began with a 25-yard run the first time he touched the ball.

"There are some things I need to work on," he said. "But there were some good things, too. You watch the film and there are always things that you can do better."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press