Browns-Bengals: Pre-Game Notes

A brief set of notes to whet your appetite for tomorrow's game, if you've still got one...

PRE-GAME NOTES:

  • The Browns have had to change or alter their offensive line 15 times this season. It will be 16 on Sunday in Cincinnati when Paul Zukauskas misses the game due to a sprained knee.
  • Davis raised some eyebrows among the team's secondary when he said he needs bigger defensive backs in 2004. "I'm not going to grow at all," one player said.
  • What would Davis say to the fans? "If they can somehow, some way get by the losses and look at the pieces and the guys that are here and the potential that they bring if we can get these guys well ... I don't believe by any stretch of the imagination that this is a 4-11 football team if we don't go through those injuries."

The Browns had given up one 200-yard rushing game in the team's history prior to this year -- to Pittsburgh's John Henry Johnson in 1964. They've given up three this year alone -- two to Jamal Lewis of Baltimore, one to LaDainian Tomlinson of San Diego.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

It's looking more and more like running back Lee Suggs will be the team's back of the future. Suggs was drafted in the fourth round last season, obviously as insurance should William Green's behavior problems lead him to where he is now. Suggs has run well, leading Baltimore cornerback Corey Fuller to say: "I like him. William Green better get his act together."


PERSONNEL/INJURY NOTES

GAME PLAN: The cynic would say the Browns plan is to merely survive. A 4-11 team that got blown out at home in its previous game could easily pack it in, especially playing against a team that needs a win to qualify for the playoffs. The Browns have to compete, though. The integrity of the playoff chase is at stake. Their biggest challenge is mental -- to overcome the problems and negativity and focus on playing well in Cincinnati.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

  • Browns CB Roosevelt Williams vs. Bengals WR Chad Johnson. Johnson is one of the league's best. Williams is a rookie picked up in September who is playing like a rookie.
  • Browns defense vs. Bengals running game. In Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson the Bengals have a very effective and dangerous running game. The Browns have given up 100-yard games to the last four teams they've played, and their defense also has given up three 200-yard games this season.

INJURY IMPACT: There will be yet one more change on the offensive line as right guard Paul Zukauskas will miss the game with a sprained right knee. Joaquin Gonzalez or Enoch DeMar will play in his place. The team also lost backup defensive tackle Antonio Garay to a torn ACL in his left knee. Garay will have reconstructive surgery in January.

SERIES HISTORY: 61st meeting in the Battle of Ohio, with the Browns leading the series 31-29. The Bengals started the Browns season spiraling downward by beating the Browns earlier this year in Cleveland.
 


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