NFL warns Warren after comments

Updated: November 12, 2004, 7:34 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Coming off two bitter losses and with their season slipping away, the Browns (3-5) need to somehow rattle Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. And defensive tackle Gerard Warren thinks he knows just how to do it.

He wants to clock Big Ben.

Gerard Warren
Defensive Tackle
Cleveland Browns
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
5 3 2 0 2 0

"One rule they used to tell me: Kill the head and the body's dead," Warren said.

The NFL issued a warning to Warren for his comments regarding Roethlisberger.

"We notified the team, including Gerard Warren, that if a player commits a flagrant foul after making such a statement, it may be a decisive factor supporting the suspension of the player, depending on the entire set of circumstances," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Cleveland's tackle feels if the Browns can shake the confidence in Pittsburgh's rookie QB, they might be able to stun the Steelers. And to unnerve Roethlisberger, Warren sounds as if he's willing to do just about anything necessary.

"I didn't say knock him out of the game, I said just go across his head a time or two," said Warren, who was fined $35,000 in his rookie season for a cheap shot on Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell. "There's a difference."

Like what he did to Brunell?

"A Mark Brunell," said Warren, who blindsided Brunell after an interception. "But it's more of a mental thing than a physical. Rattle his head. If we can't be on his head we'd love to be in it."

The Browns blitzed Roethlisberger only four times during their 34-23 loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 10. They'd like to put more pressure on him, but they can't risk getting beat by single coverage.

In their earlier meeting against Pittsburgh, the Browns got burned by Roethlisberger, who twice avoided sacks and connected with Plaxico Burress on long passes, one for a TD.

"We've got to make sure he stays in the pocket. He has burned everyone that he has played," said Davis, whose team will be the first to face Roethlisberger twice.

Cleveland will need to be choosy when picking its spots to go after Roethlisberger, who was wobbled but stayed in after a helmet-to-chin hit from Browns tackle Orpheus Roye last month.

"I don't think we have to blitz him more than we did in the first game," Warren said. "The defensive line was doing a decent job of harassing him. We just need to make plays, sacks slipping out of our hands, things like that."

Not only has Roethlisberger been the perfect quarterback -- he's just the second rookie since 1970 to start off 6-0 -- but he's been impeccable in leading the Steelers to their best start since 1978.

"He doesn't know any better and he's playing free," Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia said. "He's not thinking about the situation, he's just going out there and playing as if nobody is expecting anything out of him. He's playing great."

That could change, though, if the Browns could get ahead or if they find a way to knock the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Roethlisberger off his game.

But how?

"One of these right here," Warren said, raising his elbow. "Right in the throat, how about that?"

But couldn't that result in a fine?

"Hey," Warren said. "It will be worth it."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press