Steelers Prepare for Aerial Bombardment

With the Raiders and Patriots showing that the Steelers vaunted defense can be beaten with a spread offense, Pittsburgh braces for the suddenly formidable Browns pass attack. Mike McLain is deep within enemy territory and reports on the preparations.

The Steelers will be prepared if the Browns use their four-receiver offense a lot when the teams meet Sunday at Heinz Field.

"They look good," Steelers cornerback Dewayne Washington said. "It's tough to say that we're going to be able to stop them. We're just going to try to contain them. The way the NFL is going now, offenses are spreading out and throwing the ball all over the place, and the Browns are doing a great job of fitting right in."

Kevin Johnson leads Browns receivers with 21 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown. Quincy Morgan has 16 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns, and Andre Davis has 12 receptions for 150 yards and four scores. Dennis Northcutt has just four receptions, including an 8-yarder to send last Sunday's game into overtime.

Steelers safety Lee Flowers assumes that Browns quarterback Tim Couch will come at the defense with an aerial assault.

"They have so many weapons," Flowers said. "You look at this league, and so many teams are throwing 50-plus passes. We think Cleveland is going to do the same thing, especially because they have a good receiving corps.

"Couch is looking good, and their backup quarterback (Kelly Holcomb) is looking good. I was hoping that they were going to have a quarterback controversy this week, but unfortunately they don't. Those guys are playing with a lot of confidence. That's something they've been missing for a long time."

Washington doesn't think that it's important for the Browns to have success on the ground to score points.

"To gain positive yards is to gain positive yards," Washington said. "I think teams are finally starting to figure that out. It really doesn't have to come from the running back all the time. If you can get 4 or 5 yards passing the ball, teams are taking it."

AWARDS TIME: Davis is one of five finalists for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week Award. Davis had five receptions for 99 yards. He had a 31-yard reception in overtime to help set up Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal from 33 yards out.

Davis has caught a touchdown pass in each of the first three games, a distinction held by just five other NFL rookies since 1970. The rookie with the most touchdown receptions in consecutive games at the start of his career was Charlie Brown of Washington in 1982.

INJURY NEWS: Listed as questionable for the Browns are offensive tackle Ryan Tucker (knee); safety Chris Akins (hamstring); linebacker Brant Boyer (knee); offensive tackle Roger Chanoine (knee); center Dave Wohlabaugh (hand), and defensive lineman Alvin McKinley (ankle). Boyer didn't practice Wednesday.

MAKING A CHANGE: The Browns waived offensive tackle Jarvis Borum from the practice squad. His spot was filled by defensive back Raymond Walls. Walls was selected by Indianapolis in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. The Colts waived Walls last Aug. 28.

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