Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: CBS (Bill Macatee, Steve Beuerlein)
SERIES: 23rd regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series 17-5, and have won the last eight meetings against the Browns. Counting three wins in AFC Championship Games in the 1980s, the Broncos are 20-5 overall against Cleveland, their best winning percentage against any opponent.
PREDICTION: Broncos 17-10
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns are banged up behind RB Jamal Lewis, who will need to assume a heavy workload and pound away at Denver's new 3-4 scheme. Denver can get after the passer, so QB Brady Quinn will stand a far better chance of working downfield successfully if he can sell the play-action. The Broncos will use a committee of running backs to attack Cleveland's run defense that gave up 180 yards to the Vikings' Adrian Peterson last Sunday. But the real key is first down after Denver gained 2 yards or less on 20 opportunities last Sunday. QB Kyle Orton hopes to play without a glove to protect his injured right index finger, and coach Josh McDaniels is counting on the offense improving each week in understanding his complicated system.
FAST FACTS: In 22 regular-season games against Denver, Cleveland has never had a 100-yard rusher. ... Denver has won nine consecutive home openers.
--RB James Davis practiced on a limited basis Thursday. He was held from practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.
--LB David Bowens was limited in practice with a knee injury that has bothered him since early in training camp.
--RB Jerome Harrison practiced without restriction for the second straight day. He missed the last three preseason games and the opener with a knee injury.
--P Dave Zastudil has a sore right knee but it did not prohibit him from practicing. --A neck injury limited RB Jamal Lewis in practice Thursday but he fully expects to start against the Broncos.
--S Brian Dawkins returned to full practice Thursday. He was held out Wednesday as a precaution because of his hand injury. He will play Sunday.
--CB Champ Bailey has an ankle injury but went through a full practice Thursday. Bailey was held out Wednesday. He should be able to play.
--G Chris Kuper is still limited by a high ankle sprain. If he's held out another week, Russ Hochstein will get another start at right guard.
--RB Peyton Hillis had to play a little more fullback last week because Spencer Larsen was out. Hillis got only two touches, but he could get a few more going forward.
--QB Kyle Orton was still wearing a glove on his injured right hand to help with his grip. Orton hopes to play without the glove Sunday.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Cornerbacks are supposed to have short memories to survive the pressure that goes with playing on an island. Brandon McDonald learned in November the importance of training himself to not dwell on mistakes, but that doesn't mean he has total amnesia.
And just in case the starting right corner did somehow forget what happened the last time the Browns played the Broncos, he has been getting plenty of reminders in the locker room this week as his team prepares to face the Broncos in Denver on Sunday.
"Everybody knows what went on against the Denver team last year," McDonald said. "I made a vow to myself and my family and my teammates to try to never perform like that again.
"I'll prepare this week and try to get any tip I can on these guys like everyone else and hopefully we'll get a win on Sunday."
McDonald was the goat of the 34-30 loss to the Broncos last year in Brady Quinn's first NFL start. Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, now with the Bears, threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and burned McDonald on two of them. One was a 93-yard play to Eddie Royal down the sideline and the other was an 11-yard slant to Brandon Marshall. McDonald also had a chance to intercept two passes and missed both.
McDonald did not try to hide or make excuses. The next week the Browns were in Buffalo and McDonald was on the bench -- for one play. He broke up the first pass thrown in his direction and has been playing well since.
"That's something I put behind me," McDonald said. "I can't really focus on what I did last year. I can only focus on what I can do this year and compete at the line of scrimmage and win one-on-one matchups.
"Eddie Royal is a quick, small fast guy. He has tremendous ability in the return game. He's an excellent receiver and runs great routes. He can catch the ball vertically downfield, so he has a lot of positives to his game. But just like every player, there are some negatives to everyone's game."
Royal caught two passes for 18 yards against the Bengals last week in the opener. Marshall caught four for 27 yards.
Knowshon Moreno proved on Sunday how important the preseason can be.
Moreno, the Denver Broncos' top pick in April's draft, missed all but a few plays in the preseason because of a knee injury. He hurt his knee in the preseason opener and didn't play again in the preseason.
He split time with starter Correll Buckhalter at Cincinnati in the regular season opener but looked out of sync. He rushed for only 19 yards on eight carries and admitted to missing many reads.
"I made a lot of mistakes on my own," Moreno said.
Moreno also said he was a bit surprised by the speed of the game. He should continue to get more comfortable as he gets more experience, and then he should get more playing time. Buckhalter looked good against the Bengals and will likely start against against Cleveland on Sunday.
The good news for Moreno is he was healthy. He said his knee felt good and he didn't feel like he ran tentatively because of the injury.
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