Cleveland at Baltimore; Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens battle in week-two of the NFL season.

Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (0-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman
SERIES: Ninth meeting. The Ravens lead the series, 5-3. The Cleveland Browns have won the last two times in Baltimore, including a 14-13 comeback win in Week 16 last season. Browns quarterback Tim Couch connected with tight end Mark Campbell for a one-yard touchdown pass, capping a 92-yard drive with 29 seconds left in the game.

2003 RANKINGS: Browns: offense 21st (15th rush, 22nd pass); defense 10th (9th rush, 15th pass). Ravens: offense 30th (20th rush, 25th pass); defense 25th (17th rush, 21st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns' patchwork offensive line held up well in the season opener, but will have a tough test against Baltimore's 3-4 scheme that is intent on producing a better pass rush to help out its secondary. Cleveland must establish the running game to take the heat off QB Kelly Holcomb, which means better run-blocking from rookie C Jeff Faine. The Ravens also want to get their running game untracked after RB Jamal Lewis got only 15 carries in the opener. Baltimore is counting on Lewis running behind a veteran offensive line to take advantage of Cleveland's young linebackers.
FAST FACTS: Browns: Coach Butch Davis is 3-1 against Baltimore. ... 20 of the 34 games under Davis have been decided in the final minute. Ravens: In four career games against the Browns, RB Jamal Lewis has 543 rushing yards. ... Baltimore has lost eight of the last night games in which Lewis has rushed fewer than 20 times. ... The team has lost three consecutive games to NFC North opponents.

PREDICTED SCORE: Ravens 24, Browns 20

   --CB Michael Lehan (calf) is off the injury report. He could play in the dime defense and on special teams.
   --DE Courtney Brown is probable with a foot injury. He was kicked in the heel in the first quarter last week against the Colts. He finished the game and did not miss practice this week.
   --WR Quincy Morgan is listed as probable with a hip injury. He did not miss any practice time.

   --WR Frank Sanders has practiced all this week despite having a couple of dislocated toes and will likely make his first start for the Ravens. If his endurance isn't strong, he will be spelled by Marcus Robinson.
   --RB Jamal Lewis will have at least 25 carries against Cleveland, which primarily plays Cover-2. Lewis has more carries (90) and more yards (543) against the Browns than any other team in the league.
   --CB Corey Fuller returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday's workout with a thigh injury. Fuller expects to play and said, "I'll be all right. I've had worse injuries than this."
   --QB Kyle Boller should have a comfort zone playing in his first home game and against a defense like the Cleveland Browns, who rarely blitz and play a deep zone to take away the big plays.
   --OLB Peter Boulware plays the rush end on the right side in passing situations and could have a big sack day against journeyman left tackle Barry Stokes.
   --RT Orlando Brown may make his first start in three years and would face defensive end Courtney Brown, the disappointing No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft.

   Quincy Morgan caught only one pass last week against the Colts. He's looking for more against the Ravens Sunday, but for part of the day he'll be going against his former teammate, Corey Fuller, if Fuller can play through a thigh injury.
   Fuller played four years with the Browns before signing with Baltimore as a free agent. Morgan was a second-round draft choice in 2001. They went at each other daily in practice, though Fuller went against Kevin Johnson more often.
   "He knows me and I know him," Morgan said. "Whatever I can use against him, I will. It's fun playing against a guy with a personality like Fuller has. I know if he beats me he's going to talk trash. If I beat him I'll talk trash. He's going to talk trash all day even if you do beat him twice."
   Fuller called Morgan at Morgan's home Wednesday night. Morgan figured Fuller was trying to soften him up.
   "We're not enemies," Morgan said. "It's bigger than that. We're not even enemies on the field. We have a job to do. He has to cover me and stop me. I have to beat him and make catches on him.
   "To be honest, when you have a hatred for a guy you can get all out of your game. You can get kicked out of the game and get penalties.
   "When he talked to me, he was all nice, but I know that's Corey Fuller. I've been in this locker room for two years. I know he could try to punch me in the mouth on the first play of the game. He's a good guy, but I wouldn't put anything past him."

   The talk this week has been how will the Cleveland Browns linebackers handle Ravens running back Jamal Lewis? But there should be equal concern about how they will cover Baltimore tight end Todd Heap.
   Although all three Browns linebackers made solid NFL debuts in the team's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens will likely try to exploit the mismatch with their Pro Bowl tight end.
   "It's a young group," said Heap, who led the Ravens with six catches for 55 yards Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. "They don't have that much experience, but when you watch them, they play hard. They play physical, run well and you can't underestimate anything they do."
   Strong-side linebacker Kevin Bentley, who will likely draw much of the responsibility of containing Heap, middle linebacker Andra Davis and weak-side linebacker Ben Taylor helped hold the Colts to three field goals. Taylor and Bentley recorded interceptions of Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.
   Against an entirely different Browns linebacker corps last season, Heap caught 11 passes for 114 yards in two games. Due to salary cap problems, the Browns released that trio of Darren Hambrick, Earl Holmes and Dwayne Rudd.
   But the Ravens aren't underestimating this new group of linebackers.
   "I'm sure they are going to be watching film and we're going to be watching film," Heap said. "But my mind-set going into this game is that they are athletic and do a lot of things."

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