Redskins won’t take Browns lightly

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, October 18, 2008

As a proud graduate of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher watched the Monday night upset of the season with mixed emotions.

‘‘I’m a Browns fan,’’ Fletcher said. ‘‘And it’s, like, ’Man, I’m from Cleveland. I want them to beat the Giants.’

‘‘But then — do I want them coming in here on a roll?’’

Email newsletter signup

Probably not. After all, the Redskins (4-2) themselves have been involved in three consecutive major road upsets. They traveled to knock off Dallas and Philadelphia, then were stunned at home by St. Louis last week. They have no interest whatsoever in continuing that trend when they host the Browns (2-3) on Sunday.

‘‘We’re not going to treat them like, ’We are the dominant team, and you are the underlings,’’’ Redskins coach Jim Zorn said.

Fine, except that Zorn said more or less the same thing last week about the Rams, but perhaps the message didn’t sink in. Clinton Portis went so far as to say that Washington ‘‘overlooked’’ St. Louis. Not everyone agreed, but all in burgundy and gold felt they had been taught a lesson.

‘‘The lesson that you take is you have to come to play each and every Sunday, regardless of how a team looks on paper,’’ Fletcher said.

Cleveland is hearing a similar message from coach Romeo Crennel. After losing their first three games by a combined score of 78-46, the Browns squeaked by Cincinnati before finally hitting stride in the 35-14 rout of the Giants.

‘‘We don’t even have a winning record,’’ Crennel said. ‘‘We’re talking about trying to get to .500. At least you don’t have a losing record if you can get to .500. If you harp it into them enough, and throw it in their face, they start believing it. Because everybody else, they’re starting to tell them how good they are and that they should be a playoff team now — and it’s just one game they’ve played.’’

The Browns needed a few weeks to get healthy. Quarterback Derek Anderson and receiver Braylon Edwards both missed a chunk of preseason. Right tackle Ryan Tucker, linebacker Willie McGinest and receiver Donte’ Stallworth returned from various injuries for the Giants game.

Tight end Kellen Winslow was hospitalized for several days with an undisclosed illness. He practiced on Friday for the first time since leaving the hospital and said whether he plays against the Redskins is up to Cleveland’s coaching staff.

‘‘You’ve got to knock the rust off, and you’ve got to get back in sync,’’ said Edwards, who caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. ‘‘You have to get back in sync with your quarterback, your linemen, your team. It took us a while, and I believe we got our footing back to some extent, and we’ve just got to build on what we did the other day.’’

The Redskins ruined their day against the Rams by committing their first three offensive turnovers of the season, yet they still managed to overcome a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit before losing 19-17 on a last-play field goal.