Haden, the improbable.
- Most knee sprains tend to take 4-6 weeks before a player realistically can get back on the playing field competitively. As the Browns have upgraded Haden from ‘doubtful' to ‘questionable' on the official injury report, I wouldn't get too excited.
Haden has been working with the medical and training staff in hopes to be ready to play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
When it became know that Haden had made the trip to the West Coast with the team, there was sudden optimism that the Browns best CB was a possibility to face-off against the speedy Raiders WR's.
Despite being upgraded to questionable, Haden has not taken reps in practice, nor has he run at full-speed leading up to the flight to Oakland.
As of Friday's trip to Oakland, it does not appear Haden will play, but the second-year CB will work-out Sunday morning, with a final determination based off his medical exam and progress leading up to the work-out, as well as how he fares.
Never say never, as Haden is as competitive as they get…….and he'll be pretty upset and plead his case if told he has to sit out.
Raiders speed kills and Browns have an answer.
- Matching up with the Oakland WR's proves to be a challenge for the Browns, with or without Haden on the field.The Raiders WR's rely on speed and quickness generally to be effective receivers for QB Jason Campbell. While running decent routes, the Raiders receivers are basically young and haven't fully developed there route running skills. But, if you want speed, this team has it outside. This speed will lead towards the Browns DB's to be challenged, and this could play into an advantage for the Browns defense, if they execute. The Browns will play zone and plenty of it, due to their concerns about RB Darren McFadden rushing the football and getting outside in the passing game. But, when not playing zone, expect to see CB Dimitri Patterson and the quick rookie Buster Skrine taking turns covering the Raiders wealth of speed. A dilemma facing the Browns is how to play Skrine and Patterson. Patterson has been the nickel back for the team and has performed well. Skrine has primarily played outside. While theoretically Patterson would be the choice due to his experience and being the third CB (behind Haden and Sheldon Brown), Skrine's limited experience and his speed and quickness may him the enticing option to replace Haden.
Attacking the Raiders a reality?- The talk surrounding the team heading into this game is how the Browns plan to scheme against the Raiders. While specifics are sketchy, expect head coach and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to be aggressive calling the offensive plays. Over the bye-week, Shurmur and his staff evaluating what they can do better as coaches, such as utilizing players to the best of their ability or to provide the greatest impact to the team and to be more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. QB Colt McCoy has been criticized for missing receivers and holding onto the ball too long. Some of these issues rest on the shoulders of the head coach, as he is responsible for the passing game and those surrounding the second-year QB. In replacing the extremely non-productive WR Brian Robiskie with rookie Greg Little and more reps being laid out for WR's Josh Cribbs immediately, along with Jordan Norwood and Carlton Mitchell soon, the head coach seeks to provide McCoy quicker options in the passing game. And, the head coach wants McCoy to trust in his receivers and plays…..just make the throws. McCoy is said to have easily had his best week of practice this week.
Hillis back, Hardesty still in the picture.- A familiar face will be the feature back against the Raiders, that player being Peyton Hillis. Hillis resumes his role of being the primary RB and is expected to see the majority of reps on Sunday. An interesting development could provide second-year RB Montario Hardesty additional playing time, which could be significantly important on game-day. The Browns are expected to utilize some misdirection and counter plays for the RB's in the attempt to slow the extremely aggressive pursuit and commitment by the Oakland front seven defensively. Hardesty quickness could be beneficial in getting to the second line of defense.
Long-armed Raiders pose significant challenge.
- Offensive line coach George Warhop wants the Browns offensive linemen to get into the bodies of the Raiders defensive linemen.
In getting into the body of a lineman, the Raiders would have a harder time getting their hands up to block pass attempts, which is a facet this Oakland team has been strong at.
A QB the height of McCoy could have difficulties finding receivers and the timing of routes would be certainly disrupted if Oakland is successful.
More Moore likely unless Raiders can't be slowed.- Head coach Pat Shurmur is talking like he is going to make good on his note that TE Evan Moore will gain opportunities in the offensive scheme. Not known as a blocker in any stretch, Moore has shown to be a solid target for McCoy, when utilized, which has mainly been in the red zone. If there is one aspect heading into this game the Browns believe they have an advantage, it is the match-up of their TE's against the Oakland LB's and S's. If the Browns offensive line and backs and fend off the hard-charging Raiders defensive front-seven, Moore will be on the field in the receiving game. If the Browns cannot minimize the impact up-front of the Raiders, then TE Alex Smith will play a larger role in helping seal the edge, basically ripping playing time again from Moore.