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Turning point

Updated: 4:35 p.m.

Carson Palmer is thinking along with the rest of Bengaldom. That 51-45 game in Cleveland the second game of the year wasn't just your average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill first loss of the season.

"I think that kind of set the tone for both teams," Palmer said at his Wednesday news conference. "They had just lost at home to Pittsburgh badly and kind of went on a run after us and got some confidence. And maybe we lost a little. We went downhill and they went uphill."

The Browns went up to 9-5 and the Bengals went down to 5-9 and Palmer admitted he and his teammates didn't think that would happen back on Sept. 16.

"I think the whole team thought we'd be 2-0 walking into Seattle," he said. "We were all shocked. We needed it. It knocked us down a little bit and made us feel like we weren't that good."

ROMEO's LINE: Browns coach Romeo Crennel is making sure his team is watching the Bengals of September and not December.

"I'm telling my guys, 'Hey, they scored 45 on you the last time. You better expect the same thing this time,' " Crennel said Wednesday of the 51-45 victory. "Don't believe what you see on the tape. Expect that they're going to put up 45."

"I see Chad (Johnson) still running around scoring touchdowns. When they throw it up he'll go get it, so that concerns me," Crennel said in his conference call with Bengals media. "T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) just got voted to the Pro Bowl, so he's doing a lot of things. I know Palmer has been a Pro Bowl quarterback."

But tape doesn't lie. The Bengals offense has been pretty much moribund since they scored six touchdowns on six Palmer touchdown passes in Cleveland Sept. 16.

In the last four games they've scored seven touchdowns, one each in the three December games, and Palmer has thrown just 14 touchdowns in the 12 games since. Since Johnson scored two touchdowns that day, he's scored just three more and they were all in the same game, the 35-6 win over Tennessee 24 days ago in the last game the Bengals scored more than a touchdown.

Crennel did note that Bengals running back Rudi Johnson "has been banged up a little bit, but they've got running backs by committee and all those guys runs hard and they're explosive and make plays."

Rudi Johnson has been a constant in the five games Crennel has opposed the Bengals. In racking up a 4-1 record in that stretch the Bengals have turned to Johnson to rush for 124 yards per game, including his lone 100-yarder this season when he went for 118 on 5.1 yards per carry.

But the next week, Johnson hurt his hamstring and he's averaged 2.6 yards since and culled only 142 in the last three games. He's ripped off 169 and 145 alone in his last two Paul Brown Stadium games against Cleveland, and the last-ranked Browns defense comes in rated 28th against the run.

Still, Crennel would like some Rudi Weather on Sunday.

"I want to play in snow with the wind blowing and cold. Because the last time we played in that we won," said Crennel of last Sunday's 8-0 blizzard of the Bills in snowy Cleveland.

With rain in the forecast, Crennel was told he'll have to bring it with him.

"I've got some right here on this field," he said, "so we'll just truck it on down."

NORTH MOVE: Browns defensive lineman Shaun Smith was going to take a page out of the Old Chad Johnson's playbook and send some special deliveries to the Bengals locker room before Sunday's game against the Bengals.

Poker chips to Levi Jones after his casino confrontation with Joey Porter. A Wendy's hamburger wrapper to Fatburger owner Willie Anderson. And a pacifier to Johnson himself.

"But I don't want Romeo to get mad at me," Smith said earlier this week. "I'm more of a professional now. I think that happens when you've been in the league a few years."

Smith's voice was a constant hum in the Bengals locker room the past two-plus seasons as he gave the Old Chad a run as the most audacious and vocal Bengal. He had more syllables than snaps, but he's changed that in Cleveland, where Crennel has been impressed with how he has moved from tackle to left end in Cleveland's 3-4 to replace the injured Orpheus Roye.

Smith is apparently choosing carefully to whom he talks.

"He doesn't talk a whole lot around me," Crennel said.

INJURY UPDATE: Anderson (knee) dressed for Wednesday's practice but it is unclear if he could be ready to play Sunday after missing the last eight games. Linebacker Rashad Jeanty (knee), who missed last Sunday's game, also dressed for the workout inside Paul Brown Stadium. Jeanty wasn't listed on the injury report. Rudi Johnson's hamstring flared up for the first time in a few weeks and he didn't practice. Neither did wide receiver Chris Henry (ankle).

For the Browns, Roye (knee) and Smith (back) didn't practice. Neither did another defensive lineman, Robaire Smith (back), and linebacker Antwan Peek (ankle).

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