BEREA—So how do the Browns replace their leading tackler on defense?
D'Qwell Jackson was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with a shoulder injury after leading the team in tackles with 57 through the first six games. Jackson has been the leader in tacklers for the past two years and led the NFL in tackles last season.
"We have a couple of different options," Eric Mangini said. "I thought Kaluka did a pretty good job for his first time."
Maiava and Veikune should benefit from the absence of Jackson. Maiava was this year's fourth-round draft choice, while Veikune was a second-round choice.
Maiava had six tackles against the Steelers, mostly in the second half after replacing Jackson, including a forced fumble. He has four tackles on special teams and a forced fumble.
"I have to prepare like I always have," Maiava said. "It will be a game-day decision (on who starts)."
Maiava said his first extended action against the Steelers showed him he has a way to go.
"There's definitely room for improvement," he said. "We didn't get the win, so we have to work harder and be ready this week."
Maiava wants to make the most of his opportunity.
"I want to prove that I can play," Maiava said. "I've been preparing for (this opportunity) since Day One.
"Now, it's happened and I have to play well."
Veikune is not listed with a tackle either on special teams or in regular defensive statistics.
When asked about the replacement, he failed to mention Veikune, but quickly corrected himself.
"I made a mistake leaving him out," Mangini said. "David has made a lot of progress. He's been on the inside and is an option."
Mangini said Barton could be moved to Jackson's position and Veikune could play the position that Barton has been playing.
"Kaluka plays the Will,l which is what D'Qwell plays," he said. "You could move Barton to Will and Veikune to Mike (strongside)."
Veikune has played both inside and outside, but is listed as the backup on the inside. He said being able to play either spot is beneficial.
"I just want to help our team in whatever way I can," Veikune said. "It helps to know everybody's position."
Mangini said he felt Veikune's size benefited him from moving from the outside to the inside in training camp.
"His ability to rush from the inside position is unique in itself," he said. "Once he got used to a new position in college, he did quite well."
Veikune played defensive end in college at Hawaii. He just wants to make the opportunity if it's presented to him.
"It's an opportunity for everybody to step up and play," Veikune said. "It's definitely been a process and I just keep working hard."
Mangini said he was not disappointed that being such a high draft choice, Veikune hasn't been able to get on the field quicker.
"Not necessarily," he said. "Everybody develops differently. You have to be able to make the calls and adjustments for that (linebacker) spot."
The team will miss Jackson's play, but Mangini said his presence will still be felt.
"D'Qwell's such a good guy even though he's not playing he'll work with the guys who replace him," Mangini said.
Mangini confirmed that Jackson will have surgery, but didn't know when.
"It's a big hit to our team," Maiava said. "He's a leader on the field and spiritually for us."
Sick Dawgs: Mangini mentioned that 12 players are home dealing with flu-like symptoms. He said that the team will cut back practice and try to get the players healthy for Sunday's game.
"We're going to cut practice down a bit," Mangini said. "We're quite a few players short."
Mangini rattled off a list of players who were sent home: Jerome Harrsion, Alex Mack, Anthony Madison, Jason Trusnik, Brodney Pool, Shaun Rogers, Robert Royal, Chansi Stuckey, Brian Schaefering, Kamerion Wimbley, Corey Williams and Lawrence Vickers.
"We're trying to respond to any type of illness and keep guys at home and prevent the illness any way we can," Mangini said. "We have quite a few guys who are dealing with it. So we'll adjust practice accordingly."
Mangini said he's exploring options the NFL has if an epidemic breaks out.
"We're trying to be aggressive about this situation and if there are provisions the league has if the team has epidemic," he said. "There are roster exemptions, where you can bring up practice squad guys without having to release players."
Mangini said the Browns have enough players to man each position.
"We have people for each position, with the exception of Vickers (fullback)."
QB Derek Anderson said that he noticed the numbers were down.
"I looked around and noticed a few guys missing."
DA's Take: QB Derek Anderson said he and the receivers are getting on the same page. Many of the receivers now weren't prominent players in training camp. Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi were learning the ropes as rookies and Chansi Stuckey just came over from the Jets in the Braylon Edwards trade.
"It's taken time to gel and get on the same page," Anderson said.
Anderson has been victimized by drops, but said that he doesn't let that bother him.
"I just move on to the next play," Anderson said. "I tell the guys it's not an issue of them not being able to catch. They do it every day in practice. I don't get down on them and tell them that I trust them."
Anderson said he's working on cutting down his turnovers. He's thrown six interceptions, as opposed to three touchdowns.
"I' not trying to throw picks," he said. "We went through all the plays that I could've done better and there are about 15 plays this season that I would like to have back."
Browns Make Gaines: The Browns added TE Michael Gaines to the roster after placing LB D'Qwell Jackson on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Gaines was selected in the seventh-round by the Panthers in 2004. He spent three seasons with the Panthers and then short stops with the Bills, Lions and the first four weeks of 2009 with the Bears. He has appeared in 74 games with 41 starts in his six-year NFL career with 79 receptions for 810 yards, including five touchdowns.
Mangini said he's hopeful that Heiden will be able to go this week.
"We'll have to go through the week and see where he's at."