Steve Smith might have the chance to post some big numbers for Carolina on Sunday. Browns cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Gary Baxter are both listed as questionable on the weekly injury report, but it would be a surprise if either played.
Bodden has been in a walking boot all week after spraining his ankle in the win over Oakland on Sunday. He is the Browns' best cover corner and surely would have been assigned to cover Smith, Carolina's dynamic receiver. That duty now probably falls to Daven Holly.
Baxter has struggled since slightly tearing a pectoral muscle in preseason. He practiced some during the week, but it seems likely the Browns will give him Sunday and the bye week to heal.
Ralph Brown would start opposite Holly if Baxter does not play.
Holly seems emboldened by his play last week, when Randy Moss caught just one pass for 5 yards. Part of that was because of Moss' lack of interest, part because second-year quarterback Andrew Walter could not get him the ball.
Jake Delhomme brings a lot more experience to the Panthers offense this weekend, which could allow Smith and Keyshawn Johnson to have big games.
--TE Kellen Winslow said his knee is fine, but he continues to be listed on the weekly injury report. Winslow has had to fight through soreness in the knee he wrecked in a motorcycle accident, but he still has had an excellent start to the season.
--RB Reuben Droughns is listed as questionable on the injury report, but he ran for 100 yards in Oakland after being listed as questionable last week. Droughns should play, but he may have a tougher time gaining yards against the strong Panthers defensive line.
--QB Charlie Frye said a key to success in Carolina is getting rid of the ball quickly to counter the Panthers pass rush. One problem Frye has had in a strong start is occasionally holding the ball too long.
--WR Joe Jurevicius worked his way back on the field last Sunday for the first time since the opener. This weekend he may work his way back into the starting lineup. Jurevicius is too smart and too valuable to be a situational player.
--S Brian Russell is the quarterback of the defense, the guy who makes coverage calls. His job will be vital this weekend if the Browns, as expected, start corners Daven Holly and Ralph Brown. Russell said it's vital the team has no breakdowns against Carolina's Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith.