The Cleveland Browns begin their much-anticipated season against the Super Bowl favorite Dallas Cowboys. This game is loaded with talent on both sidelines and could certainly go either way, though Dallas is the early five-and-a-half-point favorite. One of the biggest questions on Sunday will be health for Cleveland.
Braylon Edwards suffered an injury to his foot, requiring an undisclosed amount of stitches after being cleated by teammate Donte Stallworth. Edwards seems pretty confident it won't be a problem. "Everybody knows what time it is," Edwards said. "I will be going on Sunday." Also said to be ready with no real concern is Cleveland's quarterback, Derek Anderson.
Braylon and Anderson being out there is certainly a plus. Unfortunately, there are many others who have been limited in practice and not quite as confident about being ready to perform at 100 percent Week One.
Jamal Lewis is a big part of this team. An issue with his hamstring has Lewis unsure of his Sunday status. Before Wednesday's practice, Lewis said he was anxious to test the hamstring and see how it felt.
"With a hamstring, it's a muscle," Lewis said. "Nothing heals a muscle but time. Time and rest. I've had a lot of time and rest. Hopefully it feels good today when I go out there and put it to the test." If Lewis is not fully healed, Cleveland will hopefully remember that this is only Week One, and the importance of having Lewis over the long haul is imperative.
Joshua Cribbs is still fighting an ankle injury as well. "I'm doing everything I can. It will probably be a game-time decision," Cribbs said Monday as he addressed the media for the first time since getting hurt Aug. 18 against the New York Giants in the second preseason game.
"My competitive side is that I want to play. It would be real hard not to play against the Cowboys. That's why I'm doing everything I can to get out on the field. If I'm ready to go, then I'm ready to go. And if I'm not, I'm not."
Other questionable Browns: Brodney Pool (concussion), Beau Bell (knee), Ryan Tucker (hip), Sean Jones (knee), and Antwan Peek (knee). While these may not be names as big as Braylon, Cribbs, or Lewis, Cleveland could use some of these guys healthy Week One.
Safety Roy Williams and Kellen Winslow
Roy Williams has spoken this offseason on covering elite tight ends. "I will admit at times, when I had one-on-one situations, and you're head up on a tight end or a receiver that can go left or right, it's tough...Sometimes you just hope they don't throw the ball your way."
You can bet Winslow will be getting some looks, and Cleveland will be exploiting the Cowboys' defense anyway they can.
Other key matchups to look at:
Browns OT Joe Thomas vs. Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware
Browns NT Shaun Rogers vs. Cowboys C Andre Gurode
Browns LB Andra Davis vs. Cowboys RB Marion Barber
Browns CB's Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald vs. Cowboys WR Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton
The Cowboys have yet to play at Cleveland Browns' stadium since the rebirth of Cleveland football in 1999. In their single meeting, the Cowboys won 19-12, and if you remember that game, you probably remember that the Browns lost far more then just the contest that day.
That game on Sept. 19, 2004 was when rookie Kellen Winslow suffered a season-ending injury to his knee attempting to recover an onside kick.
Overall, the head-to-head advantage goes to Cleveland, 17-11.