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Quarterback Gary Danielson Monday was praised by Cleveland Browns...

By ROBERTO DIAS, UPI Sports Writer

CLEVELAND -- Quarterback Gary Danielson Monday was praised by Cleveland Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer ... for getting hurt.

Danielson suffered a deep bruise of his right shoulder Sunday in the second quarter of the Browns' 24-20 victory over New England.

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The quarterback was forced to the sidelines after tackling Patriots' cornerback Raymond Clayborn, who had just picked off an errant pass.

'I don't blame Gary for his injury,' Schottenheimer said. 'He threw the damn interception -- the least he can do is go and tackle the guy.'

Danielson's injury cleared the way for rookie Bernie Kosar to make his NFL debut.

Schottenheimer said an examination of Danielson's shoulder revealed no serious injury, and added that the veteran would not practice until Thursday.

That means Danielson's replacement Sunday may get a starting role next week against Houston.

'If Gary can't play, I'll be up to the challenge,' said Kosar, who completed 9-of-15 passes for 104 yards in his NFL debut.

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'Coach says I'll practice all the plays this week, and then we'll have to see.

'Hey, maybe I'll go up to Gary, pound him on the shoulder and say, 'Hey, how're you feeling?'' Kosar said, smiling.

Danielson demonstrated an equally quick wit.

'How long will I be out? Well that depends,' he said. 'It could be either a week or 15 years, depending on what Bernie does against the Oilers.'

Clearly, Danielson does not figure to start against Houston, though Schottenheimer neatly sidestepped the issue.

'We'll make that decision later in the week,' Schottenheimer said at his Monday news conference. 'Gary's injuries aren't severe, but missing practice may be critical in deciding.'

Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome, who has caught at least one pass in 87 straight games, said he and his teammates 'have faith in both Danielson and Kosar.'

'We respected Gary right from the start of camp,' said Newsome, who snared six passes for 73 yards, including a 33-yarder for a touchdown from Brian Brennan off a fleaflicker.

'Gary has a lot of presence in the huddle. Now Bernie started off slow in camp, but when push came to shove Sunday he really took control. He impressed us in the huddles, and in his actions.'

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Kevin Mack (20 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown, and five receptions for 85 yards) echoed Newsome's thoughts.

'We all know Bernie is our future quarterback,' said Mack, who has keyed the top rushing game in the NFL (870 yards in five games; a 174-yard average. 'They're not going to pay him $6 million to keep him on the bench.

'But Gary's the present quarterback. We respect his judgement - we're learning to respect Bernie's, too.'

Schottenheimer praised Mack for his 'exposiveness,' noting the running back's consecutive 100-yard games.

He is only the third Cleveland back to perform that feat in his first NFL year -- Bobby Campbell in 1958 and Earnest Byner last season were the others.

Schottenheimer continues to be impressed with second-year safety Don Rogers.

'All I can say is 'Wow!' concerning Rogers,' he said. 'He's just getting better and better. He really helped us nail the Patriots during their two late drives, including that goalline showdown.

'All in all, we were somewhat lucky. We lost all three fumbles (one in their own endzone for a Patriot TD). We may be in first place, but we have a long way to go before we're really a first-place team.'

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