Browns Prepare for Jamal Lewis

On national TV Sunday evening, the Browns hope to repeat their terrific showing in September, when they managed to bottle up dangerous Ravens running back Jamal Lewis. But with Lewis ready and rested after a two-week pseudo-suspension, the Browns will have their hands full...<BR><BR>

It's Jamal Lewis week for the Cleveland Browns.

Last year, the Baltimore Ravens running back ripped through the Browns for 500 yards in two games. He ran for an NFL-record 295 yards in the first game, then added 205 in the second matchup.

Cleveland had all offseason to figure out a way to slow Lewis, and the Browns came through in the opener. Cleveland held Lewis to only 57 yards on 20 carries, with none longer than 9 yards in a 20-3 Browns victory.

Now the Browns must show that wasn't a fluke Sunday night when they meet the Ravens in Baltimore on national television.

"It all rests on Jamal and the run game," Browns middle linebacker Andra Davis said. "Everybody knows that. They know it. We know it. It's all about what we are going to do about it."

At 245 pounds, Lewis is big enough to run through tacklers and he has the speed to run past them. Last year, the Browns got into trouble when their defenders repeatedly neglected to fill their gaps and/or went for big tackles instead of being content to drag Lewis down.

At times, the Browns even used a 4-4 formation, which was a reflection of their belief Kyle Boller couldn't beat them. He couldn't. Because Boller has continued to struggle most of the season, look for a repeat of that strategy.

In the opener, however, the Browns' front four held its ground, and their linebackers and defensive backs were disciplined in plugging the gaps.

They also gang-tackled effectively, which was born out of safety Robert Griffith's insistence in practice that all 11 defenders touch the runner simulating Lewis on every carry.

Lewis and the Browns will both be rested. Cleveland is coming off its bye week, and its defenders have had time to let their bodies heal and to do some self-evaluation. Davis said the bye week was spent in part analyzing every snap in their first seven games.

Lewis missed the last two games serving an NFL suspension stemming from his guilty plea to a drug charge.

"He'll be fresh and angry," said newly promoted free safety Chris Crocker. "We're looking forward to it. We like to face Jamal. We know in the back of our minds what he's done to us in the past."

Unlike last year, Lewis now knows what the Browns can do to him.

"That first game is over, dead and gone," Davis said. "They might look back on it to try to get a little revenge, but they can't dwell on it. They have to get ready for Sunday."

MIXED FEELINGS: Kenard Lang would be forgiven if he jumped for joy at the prospect of facing Ethan Brooks instead of perennial All-Pro Jonathan Ogden on Sunday.

But Lang had mixed feelings about Ogden's expected absence because of a pulled hamstring. Ogden missed the first Ravens-Browns game with a knee injury. Lang beat Brooks for three sacks in that game.

But Lang said he'd rather be playing against Ogden.

"Yes in a way, because you want to play against the best," he said. "But I ain't going to sit here and cry about it."

Brooks should be better prepared this game. Throughout training camp, he had concentrated on right tackle as a fill-in for Orlando Brown, who left the team to tend to his ailing mother.

The Browns will be playing their fourth Sunday night game since returning to the NFL. They are 1-3, the only win coming in a 33-13 victory at Pittsburgh last year.

OFFENSE IMPROVING: A comparison of last season's stats through seven games shows significant improvement for the offense. The Browns are averaging 21.0 points (16.0 last year) and have run for 120.4 yards per game (96.3 last year). But on defense, the Browns are yielding 239.4 passing yards per game compared to 282.3 last year. That's the major reason they're allowing 21.0 points per game (17.3 last year).

SERIES HISTORY - 12th meeting. Baltimore Ravens lead 7-4, but Cleveland won the season opener 20-3. This is the first year in which the Ravens aren't owned by former Browns owner Art Modell.


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