BEREA— While the Browns weren’t able, despite their best efforts, to keep their starting quarterback on Sunday a secret, the Steelers have managed to do just that.
With Ben Roethlisberger continually listed as “limited” in practice this week, recovering from a foot injury sustained last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, the Browns have prepared to see both both Big Ben and his backup, Landry Jones, on Sunday.
Luckily for the Cleveland defense, while Roethlisberger is clearly on another level as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, both he and Jones have a similar skill set, making it easier for the Browns to be ready for either situation.
“Our game plan will be the same, no matter who’s playing,” linebacker Barkevious Mingo said. “With Ben Roethlisberger there, it’s obviously an upgrade at quarterback, but their backups aren’t bad QB’s at all.”
Though the two quarterbacks in black and gold are not all that different, in reality, they are different enough to force the Browns to take at least a little time to prepare for each.
That being said, however, they don’t feel that preparing for these two, in particular, is all that difficult.
"I wouldn't say that much,” safety Ibraheim Campbell said, when asked how much more time it's taken to prepare. “We have a pretty good idea.”
The Browns defense might have a good idea of how to plan for each quarterback, but they know something else as well— it’s not the quarterback position in Pittsburgh for which they need to prepare the most.
“We recognize the threats that they have around them,” Campbell said. “We recognize that they have a lot talent on their offense and that's why we know that we have to execute every play in order to stop them."
Mingo agreed with Campbell in that it’s the players around the quarterback in Pittsburgh that make them so dangerous, especially when it comes to their running attack— which is still amongst the league’s best without running back Le’Veon Bell.
“It starts up front, they have good run blockers,” Mingo said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re ready to face that challenge.”
It’s been a challenge for the Browns to stop any team’s rushing attack this season, as they currently boast the league’s worst run defense, but the problems posed by Pittsburgh don’t stop there.
With Joe Haden and Donte Whitner still in the NFL’s concussion protocol, the secondary will be faced with stopping one of the league’s best wide receivers in Antonio Brown.
"He's a big part of their offense and we definitely recognize that as a defense,” Campbell said. “It's going to be a key for us to make sure we shut him down.”
Without two Pro Bowlers of a year ago in the secondary, can they shut down Brown?
Campbell seems to think so.
"I believe we can,” Campbell said, when asked if the Browns can replace the production of the aforementioned duo. “We've got a lot of talent, guys that are prepared to step in… we've got to be ready to go.”
No matter the quarterback or the offensive weapons that the Steelers possess, the Browns defense wants to keep the status quo in regards to the way they view the other side.
“You approach every game the same way,” Mingo said. “You respect the other opponent, no matter what their record is, but you go into every game confident that you can get the job done. It’s the same way for us this week.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.