Browns' Mangini defends his practices
BEREA, Ohio — As Jamal Lewis backtracked on his stinging comments directed at Cleveland coach Eric Mangini for overworking his players, several of the Browns gathered near the running back's locker. One of them even stood on a nearby chair.
Soon, the Browns began a chant.
"J-Lew, J-Lew, J-Lew," they hollered.
One day after Lewis' anti-Mangini rant, he was being hailed as a hero.
Maybe because he stood up to his coach.
Yesterday, Mangini defended the length and intensity of his practices after Lewis had complained that Cleveland's players are being worked too hard.
Lewis asserted on Thursday that Mangini was wearing out his players during the week with 2 1/2- to 3-hour workouts, and that by the time kickoff rolls around on Sunday, they have nothing left. Mangini maintains his practices are not any longer or more physical than ones he's conducted in the past.
"I feel good about the way we practice, the time we practice," said Mangini, 1-7 in his first season with Cleveland. "Two hours of work on the field is a very reasonable time. The only time that practices are extended is if we don't execute something the right way."
Mangini said that he and Lewis, a team captain, had a "good conversation" on Thursday and discussed their differences. Mangini did not provide any details of their meeting and said he does not view Lewis' comments as detrimental conduct.
BAD CONDUCT COSTS QB CUTLER $20,000
The NFL said yesterday that quarterback Jay Cutler had been fined $20,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official during a 41-21 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.
Cutler drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 6:24 left in the third quarter after an incomplete pass to tight end Greg Olsen on a fourth-down play with the Bears trailing 34-7. Cutler apparently thought there should have been an interference penalty.
The NFL also said defensive lineman Tommie Harris had been fined $7,500 for punching Cardinals offensive lineman Deuce Lutui on the fourth play from scrimmage. Harris was ejected and later apologized.
RB WESTBROOK BACK AFTER A CONCUSSION
Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will be back on the field tomorrow against the San Diego Chargers after missing two games because of a concussion.
Westbrook, who also has been bothered by a sore ankle, practiced twice this week. He deemed himself ready to go yesterday before the team left for its flight to California.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Westbrook said. "I'm ready to go."
Westbrook, already limited much of this season with knee and ankle injuries, suffered the concussion when he took a knee to the head in the Eagles' Oct. 26 win over Washington.
ROOKIE LB JONES WILL MAKE FIRST START
Short-handed at outside linebacker, the Green Bay Packers are turning to an untested rookie for their game tomorrow against the Dallas Cowboys.
Coach Mike McCarthy said yesterday that Brad Jones would make his first NFL start.
"This is a big opportunity for him," McCarthy said. "He's had a good week's work, and I'm sure he's up to the challenge. I like what I've seen."
Jones will start for Aaron Kampman, who will miss his first game because of injury since October 2003. Kampman is recovering from a concussion he sustained in the Packers' loss at Tampa Bay last Sunday.
Bills: Buffalo receiver Terrell Owens returned to practice yesterday and declared himself ready to play in tomorrow's game at Tennessee. Owens said he fell asleep on his couch Monday night after practice, and woke up feeling stiff the next morning. He was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and the team said he had a strained hip.
Bengals: Chad Ochocinco's pretend $1 bribe is going to cost him a lot more. The Cincinnati receiver says he has been fined $20,000 for taking a dollar bill onto the field during an officials' review of one of his catches during a 17-7 win over Baltimore on Sunday. Ochocinco held the dollar in his right hand but didn't give it to the official, who motioned for him to stay away.
Redskins: Washington running back Ladell Betts is questionable for tomorrow's game against Denver in which he had been slated to start for Clinton Portis (concussion). Coach Jim Zorn said yesterday he thinks Betts will play despite a sprained ankle, but the coach also is prepared to go with a running back by committee of Betts, Rock Cartwright and Quinton Ganther.