Game Scout: Bills/Browns

Both teams need a win in the worst way today. With its head coach under fire, the Bills must somehow get back on track. Moving Kawika Mitchell to MLB could help. Cleveland, meanwhile, moves forward without its star receiver. The Browns will be relying on youth out wide. The details inside...

Cleveland Browns (0-4) at Buffalo Bills (1-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

SURFACE: AstroPlay

TV: CBS (Don Criqui, Randy Cross)

SERIES: 15th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series 9-5. The Browns beat the Bills 34-30 in their only playoff meeting. This will be the third straight year the Lake Erie neighbors have met. The Browns won 8-0 in 2007 in Cleveland and 29-27 last year in Buffalo.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills moved linebacker Kawika Mitchell to the middle after giving up 472 rushing yards the past two weeks. The secondary is also a concern with three starters potentially sitting out again. Quarterback Derek Anderson's strong arm forces teams to respect Cleveland's vertical passing game more, opening rushing lanes for backs Jerome Harrison and Jamal Lewis (hamstring), if he's able to play. Offensively, the Bills' will try to get Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch involved early. Lynch struggled last week in Miami. The line is young, beat up and not protecting Trent Edwards well, making it difficult to get the ball to Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. Somehow, the Bills must find rhythm.

FAST FACTS: Cleveland's 10-game losing streak is one shy of the franchise record set in 1974-75. ... The Bills are converting just 23.4 percent of their third downs (11 of 47).



--Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, the Browns' leading tackler, missed practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury.

--Kicker Phil Dawson is still sidelined by a calf injury. He hasn't kicked since Sept. 25.

--Running back Jamal Lewis was limited as he recovers from a hamstring injury. He said he is "day to day" and made no predictions about playing the Bills on Sunday.

--Defensive back Mike Adams was limited Thursday with a groin injury. He was unable to practice Wednesday.

--An illness kept FB Lawrence Vickers from practicing Wednesday. Vickers was limited Thursday.


--Linebacker Kawika Mitchell will switch from strong side to the middle in Buffalo's defense this Sunday against Cleveland. The Bills have struggled stopping the run with Paul Posoluszny injured and were forced to make another move. Mitchell last played the middle with Kansas City from 2003-06.

-- Ashlee Palmer, a rookie free agent from Mississippi, will make his starting NFL debut Sunday against Cleveland. The Bills are juggling their defensive look after allowing 472 yards rushing the past two games.

-- Demetrius Bell, who missed last week's game with a groin injury, practiced for a second day and appears ready to start at left tackle Sunday against Cleveland. His return would shift Jonathan Scott back to right tackle and Kirk Chambers back to backup.

--Strong safety Donte Whitner, who suffered a broken thumb two games ago, is still not back to work and not likely to play this week. He needs to build up strength in the digit and be able to adequately grip and tackle before the Bills will allow him to play with a protective cast.

--Shawn Nelson is fully recovered from a sore shoulder and practicing well. The Bills offense, struggling to score points and pass the ball, needs the rookie to round into form. He caught a touchdown pass in Week One at New England before being sidelined.

--Quarterback Trent Edwards will look to rebound from a three-interception game at Miami when the Bills host Cleveland on Sunday. The Browns are giving up 226 passing yards per game and opposing QBs have thrown for five TDs. Edwards NFL ranking has dipped to 22nd at 76.5.



The door is open for a wide receiver to replace Braylon Edwards as a starter for the Browns, and Brian Robiskie just might be the one to walk through it, coach Eric Mangini says.

If it happens Sunday in Buffalo it would be a huge jump for the rookie from Ohio State drafted 36th overall. He played on special teams in the first and fourth games and was inactive in the second and third games.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to keep working," Robiskie said when told what Mangini said. "I'm going to try and approach it the way I have. Every day in practice I've come out and I've tried to get better."

Robiskie isn't going to stretch defenses the way Edwards did, but he has reliable hands. Edwards dropped the first pass from Derek Anderson last week and he dropped 16 passes last season.

Robiskie never had off-the-field issues at Ohio State. Problems when Edwards was out of uniform were a factor in Edwards being traded to the Jets Wednesday.

"I don't know what the connection was between (Edwards' off-the field issues and the trade), but obviously Coach has stressed the importance of preparing yourself on and off the field and holding guys accountable," Robiskie said. "It's the NFL, it's a business and teams are going to do what they feel they need to do (to get better). All we can control is what we do in practice and on Sundays."

The Browns are definitely being transformed this season. Mangini traded Kellen Winslow Jr. to Tampa Bay in February. Winslow missed six games last season but still caught 43 passes. Edwards caught 55 passes.

The offense might not be as talented as it was over the last three years, but it consists of more honorable men. And despite having Edwards and Winslow, the Browns were 4-12 in 2006 and 4-12 last year. They were 10-6 in 2007.

"I'm excited to see how (Robiskie) does," Mangini said. "I'm excited to see how Chansi (Stuckey) does and how Josh (Cribbs) continues to develop. We have a younger group that I think has a lot of really good potential."

Robiskie caught 127 passes at Ohio State. He caught 42 passes as a senior and 55 as a junior.


Kawika Mitchell said playing middle linebacker is easier than playing outside linebacker, so switching positions this week will be an easy transition.

Mitchell, who has played strong outside linebacker the past two seasons for the Bills after a year with the New York Giants where he won a Super Bowl ring, last played the middle with the Kansas City Chiefs (2003-2006).

"I feel it's a natural position for me," said Mitchell, who is 6-1, 253. "I enjoy making the calls and making the checks and all of that. It's not going to be that difficult a move."

Running back Jerome Harrison is coming off his first career 100-yard rushing game accomplished last week in an overtime loss to Cincinnati. Last season in Buffalo, Harrison scored on a 72-yard touchdown run to spark a 29-27 Cleveland victory.

Mitchell replaces second-year pro Marcus Buggs, who started the past three games in place of an injured Paul Posluszny. After doing well in a win over Tampa Bay, Buggs struggled with gap assignments the past two weeks. New Orleans trampled the Bills for 222 yards on the ground and Miami followed that up with 250.

Mitchell provides experience in the middle and should have more command of the huddle.

"I feel like the MIC has always been the one that takes responsibility for that, so I'm excited to be that guy," Mitchell said.

He thinks Buffalo can fix its run defense issues with better overall fundamentals. Taking over on the outside in Mitchell's old spot is Ashlee Palmer, a rookie free agent who will make his NFL starting debut just as Buggs did a few weeks ago.

"I think he's extremely athletic," Mitchell said of Palmer. "I call him a little acrobat. He does some crazy looking things sometimes, but I think he's going to make an impact as long as he just stays in it mentally, which I think he will. I think we'll be fine."

BFR Prediction: Bills 20, Browns 10

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