Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
SERIES: 111th meeting. The Steelers and Browns series is tied at 55 apiece, although the Browns lead the regular-season series, 55-53. Pittsburgh has won both playoff games. Since their return to Cleveland in 1999, the Steelers have dominated them. They are 14-3 against the New Browns, including one playoff win, and have won 13 of the last 14. Pittsburgh has won seven of the eight games it has played in Cleveland Stadium.
PREDICTION: Steelers 24-13
KEYS TO THE GAME: New Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is going to give QB Ben Roethlisberger a chance to prove he can lead a strong passing game, utilizing three- and even four-receiver sets on early downs to attack the Browns' suspect secondary. The problem for Cleveland is it can't overplay the pass because Steelers RB Willie Parker exploded for 232 rushing yards in the last meeting. ... That's why QB Charlie Frye is starting Week 1 for the Browns -- he has experience against the Steelers' complex defense. But Frye needs plenty of help from new RB Jamal Lewis and the revamped offensive line. The Browns need to attack and be successful against the new left side of rookie LT Joe Thomas and LG Eric Steinbach. If Lewis is successful, then Frye can try to pop the big play downfield.
KEY INJURIES: Steelers: None. Browns: RT Kevin Shaffer's (concussion) status is uncertain; P Dave Zastudil (back) has been limited in practice, the Browns signed P Paul Ernster yesterday.
FAST FACTS: Roethlisberger's 23 interceptions last season were the most by a Steelers quarterback since Terry Bradshaw's 25 in 1979. ... The Browns have 15 new players on the roster.
--QB Brian St. Pierre has a right big toe injury that will prevent him from playing Sunday against the Browns.
--LB LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers' second-round pick this year, will replace Clark Haggans as the pass-rusher on the left side of the Steelers defense Sunday.
--CB William Gay, a rookie and fifth-round pick, has been involved in the team's passing defense and likely will do so against the Browns.
--LB Lawrence Timmons has been practicing all week at inside linebacker, but likely will play only on special teams Sunday.
--WR Nate Washington held off competition for his job and will serve as the slot man and the team's No. 3 receiver.
--RCB Leigh Bodden will be allowed to play in the opener despite being arrested Wednesday night on charges of aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting arrest outside Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland. Bodden was arrested for parking his car in a no-parking zone and leaving it as he was walking into the terminal to pick up his girlfriend and their two young children. Bodden faces possible disciplinary action from the league down the road for violating the personal conduct policy. Bodden, 25, never ran afoul of the law before. Bodden spent part of Wednesday night in jail before posting bond. He practiced Thursday.
--P Dave Zastudil's back is sore, but he says he will be ready for the Steelers. He popped the ball about 15 feet in the air Thursday.
--MLB Andra Davis practiced with the first team Thursday. He missed all preseason with an ankle injury but now says he is 100 percent.
--LDE Orpheus Roye was limited in practice again. He is working his way back from a knee injury. He plans to play Sunday but he is being cautious.
--Rookie QB Brady Quinn is working with the scout team. Sunday will mark the first time he doesn't start since early in his freshman year at Notre Dame.
INSIDE THE STEELER CAMP:
The Steelers plan to start young Carey Davis at fullback Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, which represents a different philosophy from the approach they've taken in the past.
Davis, an undrafted player with his fifth NFL team, replaces longtime starter Dan Kreider, one of the better blocking fullbacks in the NFL.
Kreider, 30, was the lead blocker for Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker. He rarely caught passes or carried the ball. Davis, who is 5-10, 225, can do both. Davis gives the Steelers more options in their new offense under coordinator Bruce Arians. He can block, run and catch passes.
Arians revealed on Thursday that Davis will start. The Steelers offense has changed under Arians. He wants to use more multiple receivers on first and second downs, more one-back formations with Parker in the backfield and tight ends as h-backs.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been given more control of the offense, and also will call all the pass blocking protections, something that previously was handled by his linemen.
"You can't help notice the more control he's in, not just developing as a quarterback or whatnot but also the control they've given him over the offense," said six-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. "He's more in charge of things out there."