Browns-Bengals: Game Scout

The Browns head down to Cincinnati for the Battle of Ohio. Will it be the blow-out many predict? Or will it be a tight battle a la the first meeting?

Cleveland Browns (1-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 11/29/09


TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon)

PREDICTION: Bengals 20-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: WR Josh Cribbs piled up 223 return yards in the first meeting, a 23-20 Bengals win in overtime, and the Browns need another big day on special teams to provide short fields for the offense. Cleveland ripped apart Detroit's terrible pass defense, but the Bengals have young playmakers in the secondary - even if they do give up 226.2 passing yards per game. Cincinnati rushed for 177 yards last Sunday without RB Cedric Benson, who hopes to return from a hip flexor injury. The Bengals won't run away and hide - they have failed to score more than 18 points in six of their past seven games - but will attempt to wear Cleveland down by winning the battle in the trenches.

FAST FACTS: Benson has 245 rushing yards on 56 carries in two career games against Cleveland. ... The Browns are 1-8 in their past nine road games.



--RB Jamal Lewis needs 40 yards to reach 500 yards for the season.

--TE Michael Gaines has a back injury but was able to practice Thursday.

--LB Blake Costanzo, a key player on special teams, was limited in practice with a shoulder injury.

--LB David Bowens was limited in practice with a knee injury.

--C Alex Mack participated fully in practice but he is nagged by a sore thumb.


--WR Laveranues Coles did not practice for a second straight day due to a chest injury. He should be available to play on Sunday, but if he isn't Andre Caldwell would get the start.

--DT Domata Peko did some rehab work on the side field and is probable to play in Sunday's game. Peko suffered an MCL sprain to this right knee last week at Oakland.

--OG Evan Mathis was listed as having full participation in practice, meaning he should return to his starting spot at right guard after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.

--LB Rey Maualuga was listed as being limited in practice with a foot injury. He is expected to play on Sunday.

--DT Tank Johnson had limited participation in practice due to a knee injury, but he is expected to play on Sunday.



The trade that sent Braylon Edwards to the Jets on Oct. 7 for wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and a pair of 2010 draft choices is starting to pay dividends for the Browns.

Trusnik will start against the Bengals on Sunday in Cincinnati and Stuckey could start depending on what formation the Browns use. Regardless, he will play a prominent role. The blockbuster trade was made three days after the Browns were beaten by the Bengals, 23-20, in overtime on Oct. 4.

Stuckey had one catch in four games with the Browns and then missed the game against the Ravens on Nov. 16 with a calf injury. Since that slow start Stuckey has found his bearings. He caught five passes from Brady Quinn in the 38-37 loss to the Lions. One was a 40-yard touchdown catch.

"Chansi is a good player," said Browns coach Eric Mangini, who coached Stuckey with the Jets the last year. "He was productive last season (32 catches, 359 yards, three touchdowns) in the role that he had. I think that he's a guy that's going to keep maturing as a receiver.

"He's got good hands. He's got good quickness. He's really a smart player and a smart person. He is young in his career. His first season he didn't play at all because he was on injured reserve, so this is really his second season of playing."

Trusnik has been thrown into a starting role at outside linebacker because of injuries sustained by Eric Barton and D'Qwell Jackson. He has had two sacks since the trade and forced Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford into an intentional grounding penalty from the end zone, resulting in a safety. He has made 26 tackles for the Browns.

"Jason is a guy that's developing as well," Mangini said. "This is a real concentrated amount of playing time for him. It's nothing like he's ever experienced before. I think as he gets more and more play time, he'll continue to improve. The same thing with Chansi.

"With that trade too, we've got two more players (a third-round and a fifth-round pick) that are going to come through, two more young guys that will come through and hopefully be a part of this organization for a long time. So you've got four young guys all under contact, two of them producing now that will keep emerging and hopefully two more that will play for a long time as Cleveland Browns. I felt good about that trade when we did it."

Trusnik contributed quickly. He made three tackles in the 6-3 win over the Bills just 11 days after the trade. He had four more and a sack in Pittsburgh and four more in the Green Bay game. He led the Browns with eight tackles in Chicago while making his first start.

Trusnik has been steady if not spectacular. Stuckey is out to prove what happened in Detroit was not a one-game flash. His next chance comes Sunday in Cincinnati.


Even if Bengals' running back Cedric Benson returns for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, rookie Bernard Scott is expected to see increased action for the rest of the season.

Coach Marvin Lewis said that Benson appears to be "very close" to recovering from his hip flexor injury and could be available. Benson did not practice with the team on Thursday but did do some rehab work on a side field.

In his first start last week in Oakland, Scott had 119 yards on 21 carries and was one of the five nominees for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award.

"Bernard had earned an opportunity to continue to play," Lewis said. "He'll have a chance, and he'll get some opportunities one way or the other. If Ced is back and playing, Bernard will still play a considerable amount this week."

Scott did suffer leg cramps during the fourth quarter, but that was due mostly to him not playing that amount of snaps in nearly a year, when he was a senior at Abilene Christian. Scott played for three quarters against the Steelers, but had just 13 carries. Prior to that game, the most carries he had this season was six, which was in the Week 4 game at Cleveland. In that game, Scott had 41 yards, including gains of 11 and 16 yards on a game-tying, fourth-quarter drive. Meanwhile Benson ran for 74 yards on 18 carries.

With the increased work, Scott said that he was trying to do more running after practice and stay hydrated in order to increase his game stamina.

Among the things Scott has said he will work on is trying to be more patient in reaching running lanes and working harder through blocks. He was extremely patient in the game against the Raiders as nine of his 21 carries were for a yard or less (including five for negative yards) but six were for more than five yards, including a 61 yarder in the third quarter.

"Either way I'm going to go out and work hard this week like I'm the starter and see what happens on Sunday," Scott said. "If Cedric's going to play he'll handle the starting role and I'll be the backup and fill in when they need me."

In two games against Cleveland, Benson has 56 carries for 245 yards. In last year's Week 16 game at Cleveland, Benson had a career-high 38 carries for 171 yards.

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