--MLB Paul Posluszny, the second-year pro out of Penn State, has been among the few bright spots on Buffalo's defense in recent weeks. With 56 solo tackles, he's now tied for third place among AFC linebackers and he's the youngest player among a group that includes Oakland's Kirk Morrison (58), Denver's D.J. Williams (57) and Indianapolis' Gary Brackett (56). True to form, Posluszny isn't patting himself on the back. He's still reeling from New England's 19-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that sealed last week's win over Buffalo, and dropped the Bills from first to last in the AFC East. A week earlier, the Jets put together a long fourth-quarter drive to kick the clinching field goal. "They just executed better than we did and they were better with their details," Posluszny said of the Patriots. "We have got to buckle down. Everyone has to take care of his assignment. We have to find a way to get off the field."
--Browns veteran RB Jamal Lewis remains as tough as ever to play against. He has 593 yards and four TDs on 167 carries but his history is to pick things up in the second halves of seasons. Last year, he gained 789 yards over the final seven games. He gained 163 of that against Buffalo in an 8-0 win in the snow at Browns Stadium. "Jamal Lewis is Jamal Lewis," Bills veteran DT Marcus Stroud said. "He's been a good back in this league for a while. He's a downhill runner. You know exactly what he's going to get. He's a good power back with some speed, so we have to go out there and gang-tackle him and tackle well and hopefully, like you said, get some turnovers and try and get the ball out."
--Rookie WR James Hardy, who made a nice adjustment on a jump-ball pass at the goal line in New England last week to score his second touchdown, admitted afterward that he entered the NFL not feeling very prepared. He starred at Indiana in the Big Ten and caught plenty of passes. But it's not the same, he said. "Certain universities you get taught how to play in the NFL from the routes that you run and the schemes," he said. "At Indiana, we didn't learn any of that stuff and this has been a new beginning for me coming here. I'm just trying to get adjusted and catch up as fast as I can."
--RB Fred Jackson on what it takes to dictate the flow of a game: "We have to get our swagger back. Going into these past couple of weeks, we haven't had that normal swagger. We're going to try to get that back because that's when we were going out, having fun and we were making plays when we were doing that. So I think that's something we want to address, just getting that swagger back and getting back to how we were playing when we were 4-0."
--OG Derrick Dockery has put together an impressive streak of starts at left guard. He's at 86 heading into Monday night's tilt with Cleveland, the sixth-best streak among active guards. Pittsburgh's Alan Faneca and Houston's Chester Pitts have started 105 consecutive games.
--The Bills are 5-4 but nobody's partying. In addition to the club losing four of its last five games, there is the realization that Buffalo's schedule this season is the fifth easiest in the NFL based on opponents' 2007 records. That winning percentage is .449. New England is playing the easiest schedule -- .387.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1-6 -- Bills' all-time record on Nov. 7, the date of Monday's game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Work. There are not a lot of miracles in our game. There are not a lot of solutions. Everything that you can possibly talk about always comes down to work. That's all we have to offer. That's all I have to offer. We talk about it. We just come back to work. Do we try and work smarter? Yes we do. Do we try to focus on the details? Absolutely. Do we stress it? Every day. So, what else is there? What do you do? Do you analyze our scheme? Yes we do. We look at it all. It comes down to work and then execution on the field. That's what it is. That's really all there is. Does it involve talent? Absolutely. Is it always equal? Not always. Everybody's pretty good in our business." -- Coach Dick Jauron, when asked what the defense needs to do better to prevent clock-killing fourth-quarter drives.
Strategy and Personnel
The addition of veteran LB Teddy Lehman provides some much-needed veteran experience at a position hit hard by injuries.
Angelo Crowell and John DiGiorgio are each on season-ending injured reserve with knee injuries. None of Buffalo's backups behind Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell and Keith Ellison have been in the NFL more than two years. Lehman was a 2004 second-round pick of the Detroit Lions when Dick Jauron was defensive coordinator. In four seasons, he appeared in 41 games with 16 starts for Detroit, making 165 tackles with two interceptions, before signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent last offseason. It was a bad career move. Lehman was cut in July, re-signed by Detroit, and cut again. He sat by his phone and the Bills eventually called.
"Teddy Lehman's an experienced backer in the league and he's experienced in our system, so it'll help us," Jauron said. "Obviously, when you look at our linebacker group, the three backups are not very experienced at all, so we thought it was a good opportunity to add somebody. We had a roster spot available and Teddy's a high-quality guy, he'll fit in with us and I think he'll help us. He'll definitely give us a little more comfort in terms of experience."
Lehman should help on special teams immediately. He worked on special teams Wednesday in practice.
"I really like the special teams coach," he said of Bobby April, an opinion shared by many. "We play some pretty good teams, so hopefully I can help."
--WR James Hardy worked on a limited basis Thursday due to a hip flexor problem. But he's expected to be fine for Monday's game.
--OG Brad Butler, who has missed three games with a knee sprain, practiced fully again Thursday and should be good to go Monday against Cleveland.
--TE Robert Royal was added to the injury report Thursday after tweaking an ankle in practice Wednesday. He sat out practice but should be fine for the game.
--DE Aaron Schobel, who has missed four games with a foot injury, did not practice again. He's doubtful for Monday's game.
--WR Josh Reed, who has missed two games, did not practice due to his ankle injury. He's still a ways off but is making progress.
--QB Trent Edwards is 155 yards shy of 2,000 for the season. With seven turnovers in his past three games, Edwards is spending extra time this week on his mechanics, working on his passing and footwork.
--The Bills signed CB Dustin Fox to their practice squad. He was a member of last season's practice squad until spending the final six weeks of the year on the active roster. He's appeared in seven career NFL games. Buffalo needed some emergency depth with Ashton Youboty going on injured reserve last week.
--OL Chris Denman was released from the practice squad to make room for CB Dustin Fox.
GAME PLAN: The Bills limp home with a three-game losing streak but the bright lights of Monday Night Football and the roar of the home crowd should be the cure for what ails them. That, and the fact it's the equally struggling Browns they face. Buffalo's anemic 28th-ranked rushing offense has a golden opportunity to get in gear and control the tempo of a game for a change against Cleveland's No. 26 run defense. That's providing enough helmets get on NT Shaun Rogers and ILB D'Qwell Jackson. A solid running game is the only way QB Trent Edwards snaps out of his three-game funk. As for Buffalo's defense, the task is to clean up its sloppy tackling and find a way to pressure young Browns QB Brady Quinn, who has weapons in Jamal Lewis, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards to get into a rhythm and find his confidence. If the Bills allow that to happen, they'll lose.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bills DE Ryan Denney, playing in place of an injured Aaron Schobel and who may be Buffalo's best pass rusher right now, vs. Browns LT Joe Thomas, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft.
Bills MLB Paul Posluszny, who is putting together a solid sophomore season, vs. Browns RB Jamal Lewis, a rugged downhill runner who will come right at the Bills.
Bills C Duke Preston and the struggling interior of Buffalo's offensive line vs. Browns NT Shaun Rogers, who leads his team with four sacks but is nursing a sore neck.
Bills QB Trent Edwards, who has five interceptions in his last three games, vs. Browns CB Eric Wright, who has a team-leading three interceptions.
INJURY IMPACT: SS Donte Whitner, who is nursing a separated shoulder, practiced again on a limited basis Thursday. He's hopeful of playing Monday against Cleveland, even if it's a limited role, but a decision likely won't come until game time.