CLEVELAND - Persistency is paying off for Browns second-year cornerback Buster Skrine.
Skrine was the object of media criticism earlier this season after poor performances in the first game against the Bengals and against the New York Giants. He struggled staying with Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who caught three touchdown passes.
Things went smoother for Skrine in the Browns' 7-6 win over the San Diego Chargers Sunday. He did a good job in coverage against tight end Antonio Gates, and he came up with the biggest defensive play of the game when he deflected a pass intended for Malcolm Floyd on the Chargers' final play.
"You grow as a player, game by game," Skrine said. "You can't simulate a game in practice. I'm going to get more experience, and I'm getting good reviews from my coaches. I feel like I'm doing a good job."
Browns coach Pat Shurmur doesn't buy into the criticism Skrine has received.
"Not by me," Shurmur said. "Buster is a guy that I've always thought challenges. We were in man coverage and he did a good job. Those are defining plays when you get a team stopped on fourth-and-10."
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson likes the grit shown by Skrine.
"Buster is a fighter," Jackson said. "That's one thing we all like about him. A flag might be thrown or he gets beat on a route, and he's always going to give you what he has. We've always been behind him. We never thought there was a problem. He's a young player that can learn a lot from this game and move forward."
GET TO WORK: Shurmur was prepared to give the players Monday off for the win, but before he could get the words out of his mouth in the post-game locker room he was interrupted by players that felt otherwise.
"I was getting ready to give them a, 'See you Wednesday,' and before I could get that out they all said, 'Nope, coach, we'll see you tomorrow,' which I admire because those guys know how important it is to get back to work."
FEELING GOOD: Running back Trent Richardson said his ribs felt much better than they did a week earlier against the Colts. Richardson had 24 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown.
"They're getting better day to day," he said. "I'm still out there fighting and I'm still going to be in the training room trying to get better, no matter what. The pain was way better."
HELPING HAND: Richardson received some assistance on his 26-yard touchdown run from guard Shawn Lauvao. After slipping two attempted tackles, Richardson was nudged in the back by Lauvao. The two exchanged a few words as Richardson took off for the end zone.
"I knew it was somebody. I didn't think it was Shawn," Richardson said. "I thought it was Alex Smith because he sounds just like Shawn. I'm sitting there telling him, 'Thank you. Why are you pushing me?' "
NO WAY: Quarterback Brandon Weeden said it was highly doubtful he could have completed a pass to wide-open tight end Ben Watson in the first quarter. Weeden had two factors working against him a wet ball and a swirling wind.
"That was a great play. It would have been awesome," Watson said. "We had it cued up perfectly."
GAME BALLS: Shurmur presented game balls to new owner James Haslam III and Bryan Wiedmeier, executive vice-president of business operations. Wiedmeier underwent surgery last week for the removal of a brain tumor.
HEALTHY SCRATCH: Fullback Own Marecic was among the Browns' inactive players. Marecic wasn't injured, which means he was benched for ineffective play.
Marecic has dropped all four of the passes thrown to him. Alex Smith handled the fullback duties.
OUT AGAIN: Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi missed a fifth game with a hamstring injury. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin missed his second game in three weeks with a calf injury.
Rookie receiver Josh Gordon started in place of Massaquoi. Rookie John Hughes got another start in place of Rubin.
INJURY REPORT: Browns defensive lineman Emmanuel Stephens suffered a neck injury in the first half and didn't return.
INACTIVES: In addition to Marecic, Massaquoi and Rubin, out for the Browns were defensive backs Dimitri Patterson and Tashaun Gipson; running back Brandon Jackson and offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw.
The Chargers sidelined receiver-kicker Eddie Royal; defensive backs Brandon Taylor and Shareece Wright; running back Curtis Brinkley; linebacker Jonas Mouton; defensive tackle Antonio Garay and tight end Ladarius Green.