Couch looks OK; Green sits out

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 6, 2002

BEREA -- As their starting quarterback stood to the side watching, the starting running back was off at the hospital getting more X-rays.

Three days before their opener, this wasn't the game plan the Cleveland Browns had in mind.

On Thursday, quarterback Tim Couch rested his sore right arm by not throwing a pass during the team's two-hour workout, increasing the likelihood that backup Kelly Holcomb will start Sunday's opener against Kansas City.

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Meanwhile, rookie William Green, the first-round draft pick being counted on to improve the Browns' running game, was at the Cleveland Clinic being examined for an unspecified problem.

Browns coach Butch Davis refused to elaborate on Green's condition but said he expected him to practice Friday.

''He got a little bit stiff and sore,'' Davis said. ''We wanted to do a quick check on him, so he should be fine.''

Asked where Green felt stiff and sore, Davis replied sharply: ''That's not a question that I think you should ask.''

The Browns have been cautious all week with Couch, and limited him to throwing only short passes on Monday and Wednesday. In the half-hour of practice Thursday that was open to the media, Couch threw one pass -- a left-handed lob.

Couch has been downgraded on the injury report from probable to questionable -- perhaps the clearest sign yet that Holcomb will start on Sunday.

''We'll judge Tim's progress throughout the rest of Friday and Saturday and Sunday and see how he's throwing,'' Davis said. ''The morning of the game we'll take him on the field. And we'll see. And he'll tell us. The doctors have told us that his level of discomfort is the only barometer that we have.''

Green has dealt with nagging injuries almost from the moment the Browns selected him with the 16th overall pick in this year's draft.

He missed four of the five minicamp practices this spring with a sore calf. He sat out during the club's quarterback school with a groin injury, then was sidelined for part of training camp with a shoulder injury -- after he reported late following a contract holdout.

Green's mysterious ailment is the latest obstacle for the Browns, who lost Pro Bowl linebacker Jamir Miller for the season when he tore his Achilles' tendon during the exhibition opener.

Couch had hoped to throw on Thursday after seriously testing his arm Wednesday by throwing the ball farther and with more velocity than he had since hurting it in an Aug. 26 exhibition game at Green Bay.

Davis stressed that Couch's injury is not serious and said he's been encouraged by what he's seen from him this week.

''I don't see anything as being a negative,'' Davis said. ''I see it on track." The Associated Press