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Cleveland Browns

Browns add depth to return units, defensive secondary

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 16, 2010

The Browns signed former Pro Bowl return man Clifton Smith and cornerback Eric King on Tuesday, the team announced.

Cleveland also waived fourth-string quarterback Brett Ratliff and placed starting right guard Billy Yates on injured reserve. Yates suffered a season-ending biceps injury in the second quarter of the Browns' 26-20 loss to the New York Jets this past Sunday.

Browns wide receiver/return specialist Josh Cribbs dislocated at least three toes on his right foot during his 37-yard catch and run in the second quarter Sunday, Cribbs' agent, John W. Rickert, told the Beacon Journal. Cribbs missed the rest of the game because of his injury, but Rickert said Cribbs will practice sometime this week. The Browns' medical staff will determine which day Cribbs is permitted to return to action.

With uncertainty surrounding Cribbs' availability, Smith was acquired to give the Browns (3-6) more experience on special teams as they prepare to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4) in Week 11. Rookie cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Chansi Stuckey have returned kickoffs and punts, respectively, when Cribbs has been sidelined this season.

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Smith, pictured far right, was selected to the Pro Bowl as an undrafted rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2008 season, when he returned 36 kickoffs for 992 yards with one touchdown and 23 punts for 324 yards with one touchdown. In 2009, Smith, a Fresno State University product, returned 31 kickoffs for 902 yards, leading the NFL with an average of 29.1 yards. He was waived by the Buccaneers this past September, signed by the Miami Dolphins and waived about two weeks later.

The 5-10, 190-pound King, a six-year veteran with four starts in 56 career games, was waived by the Detroit Lions in September. King, a fifth-round draft pick (153rd overall) out of Wake Forest University, will add depth to the Browns' defensive secondary, which took a hit when starting cornerback Sheldon Brown suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter Sunday. Browns coach Eric Mangini said Brown, like Cribbs, could still practice this week.

With Yates out, rookie Shawn Lauvao could be on the verge of making his first career start. Lauvao, a third-round pick (92nd overall) in this year's draft, replaced Yates at right guard after he was sidelined in the second quarter Sunday.


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