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“It was about nine yards deep,” he said, “and it could’ve went either way.”

Browns coach Pat Shurmur wasn’t sure what to expect on the first weekend under the new kickoff rules. Now that he’s coached one game and watched highlights of a few, he’s convinced kickoffs could be even more adventurous as players test their limits _ and their coach’s patience.

There could be as many long returns as short ones.

Some coaches will encourage returners to take a chance. Some will tell them to take a knee.

“It almost looks like returners now are treating that back line like the goal line,” Shurmur said. “Returners in this league have great courage. They realize the opportunity to make a play, and so we’ll have to see. It’s going to take a couple more weeks to really see how that plays out. Josh obviously jump started us with his return. He’s a playmaker.”

And a risk taker.

Cribbs is unlikely to change too much about his return style. He has promised to choose the smart play over the sensational one _ for now. As badly as he would like to return kickoffs from one goal line to the other, Cribbs understands he must lower his expectations or risk disaster.

“My goal right now is just to get the ball to the 20 and go from there,” he said. “I hope every time I bring it out I get it out to the 40 or 50 or score, but at least to the 20.”

Notes: RT Tony Pashos will likely miss Sunday’s game in Indianapolis with an ankle injury. Offensive line coach George Warhop indicated it could be weeks before Pashos is back. Until Pashos returns, the club may continue to rotate Artis Hicks and Oneil Cousins but Shurmur would like to settle on one. … WR Mohamed Massaquoi said his hamstring is not an issue after being limited in Wednesday’s practice.


Tom Withers can be reached at