Miller Blindsides Couch On Leadership

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Tim Couch may have some bruised feelings to go with his sore right elbow.

Couch (pictured, right) said Wednesday that he's still hoping to play this Sunday when the Cleveland Browns play the Cininnati Bengals. But Couch, who seemed so optimistic earlier in the week, indicated that his wishes to start may be overridden by others.

"I'm on a faster timetable than the doctors," said Couch, who tore scar tissue near his elbow during the exhibition season. "I'm not sure they're on the same page as I am."

While Couch sat out Sunday's season opener against the Kanas City Chiefs, his replacement, Kelly Holcomb, passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns in the Browns' 40-39 defeat.

Browns coach Butch Davis derailed any suggestion of a quarterback controversy once Couch is cleared to play.

"When he's 100 percent, he's the starting quarterback," Davis said.

Couch has something new to think about as he gets treatment on his arm.

Pro Bowl linebacker Jamir Miller, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon, said it's time for Couch to step up and be more of a team leader.

Miller recently made similar comments in a national radio interview in which he said he was only "75 to 80 percent sure" Couch could lead the Browns to the playoffs.

"Do I feel he can do it? Yes, I think he can," said Miller, speaking to reporters for the first time since getting hurt in an Aug. 10 game against Minnesota. "Am I 100 percent certain he can do it? I'm not 100 percent certain about anything.

"I think what needs to happen is he has to become a little more vocal with the guys. He has to exert himself a little bit more. Hey, I'm not here. Somebody has to step up and take up the slack."

The timing of Miller's remarks about Couch is curious because they're his first comments since being lost for the season. More troubling is that Miller may be saying what others in the Browns locker room are feeling, but are not in a position to say.

Miller, who led the Browns with 13 sacks last season, said Couch should try to relate to Cleveland's defensive players in the same way he does to his offensive teammates.

"It's not a situation where I'm attempting to bash Tim at all," he said. "I'm trying to be careful about what I say so it's not perceived the wrong way. All it is I'm saying is that it's his fourth year and I feel that it's time to grab the reins.

"The only thing I'm saying is in order to be the team leader, you have to get everyone in the locker room looking at you the same way."

Couch, who said he threw Tuesday with full velocity for the first time since being hurt, seemed surprised when told of Miller's comments.

"I lead by example. I play hard. I stay here in the off-season and work out with the guys," he said. "I'm always here in the facility. There's a time and a place to get in guys' faces and scream and cuss at them, and I've done that before.

"Everybody has their own way to doing things. I got a lot of other things to worry about as far as being a quarterback than worrying about what the defense is doing and bringing guys together."

Davis has no complaints about Couch's leadership qualities. He compared his quarterback to Troy Aikman, whom he coached in Dallas.

"I think Tim is a leader," Davis said. "Every guy on this team thinks he's a leader. I don't know if I've ever been on a team where one guy was the leader for the whole football team."

As Couch answered a final question at his locker, Miller, whose right leg is in a cast, hobbled over on crutches and waited for him to finish.

"Hey, baby, you know I love you," Miller said. "Come walk with me."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)