Browns head coach Eric Mangini said Wednesday that if WR-RS Josh Cribbs' workload necessitates him taking a rest, he will take some plays off on offense, not on special teams.
"No, he will return the punts and the kicks," Mangini said, according to the team, when asked if Cribbs' growing role on offense could lead to a reduction in his return responsibilities. "If he needs a breather, he will get a breather on offense. When that ball is being punted, when it's leaving a kicker's foot, he will be back there."
Cribbs, 27, leads Browns wide receivers with 10 catches and 143 yards. He has also rushed for 32 yards on six carries. Cribbs, who has returned an NFL-record eight kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, has returned six kickoffs for 112 yards (18.7 avg.) this season. He also has returned five punts for 34 yards (6.8 avg.).
The way we see it
Cribbs has improved as a wide receiver — he has 88 more receiving yards than any other Browns wideout — and is a dangerous runner taking direct snaps from center in the "Flash" package. (He also took a hand-off from Seneca Wallace last week at Baltimore.)
Though the Browns have gotten little going on returns this season, Cribbs remains a game-changing threat on special teams. His importance to the return game is clear, as Mangini signaled Wednesday. However, the subject of Cribbs' workload is bound to come up as long as his role on offense continues to grow, and especially if he continues to make strides as a pass catcher.