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Browns ready for 'tremendous challenge'

Posted Sep 11, 2013

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and his team are looking forward to the challenge of playing the reigning Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens Sunday.

The Cleveland Browns have played against the reigning Super Bowl champions in four of the last five years, and this season they get two chances at the NFL’s titleholder, the Baltimore Ravens, starting with Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Browns are 3-2 in their previous five meetings with Super Bowl champions, with their road win coming against the New Orleans Saints in the then-Louisiana Superdome on Oct. 24, 2010.

“We’re excited about playing this game and embracing the challenge of what that brings in the opportunity to play the team that’s just won the Super Bowl,” said Browns coach Rob Chudzinski. “Our guys are excited about it already. I’m confident that our guys will embrace the challenge they have and respond to the challenge this week.

“We have a tremendous challenge to play Baltimore on the road. Anytime you have a chance to play the team that won the Super Bowl the previous year, it brings an extra energy and excitement to the week, add to that that this is a division game. We’re looking forward to improving, and that starts this week with our practice and preparation.”

Much like the Browns, the Ravens find themselves coming off of a 49-27 loss in the season-opener at Denver. Baltimore held a 17-14 lead over the host Broncos at halftime, but were outscored, 21-0, in the third quarter and never recovered.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning completed 27 of 42 attempts for 462 yards and an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns.

“The game was really back-and-forth and a good game, and then, some things went Denver’s way and it sort of snowballed on them,” Chudzinski said. “They’re still the Super Bowl champions, and they still have an outstanding team. They’re well-coached.”

Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 34 of 62 pass attempts for 362 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions in the loss, and eight of those throws went to running back Ray Rice. Rice, who also rushed for 36 yards, turned the team-high eight receptions into 35 yards.

“Offensively, Joe Flacco has really shown what he can do and is a tremendous player,” Chudzinski said. “Ray Rice, in the backfield, is a dual threat that we have to contend with, a great runner as well as a receiver. Torrey Smith is a guy that’s a big-play guy and an outstanding receiver. They have a good offensive line, a solid offensive line. They play a physical brand of football. They have good balance, run and pass, and they do run some no-huddle.”

Chudzinski also sees the challenges that will come from a Ravens defense that likes to get after the passer. They registered three sacks for 17 lost yards against the Broncos. Outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs each got to Manning one time in the loss.

“They’re a team that has an outstanding front seven with Haloti Ngata anchoring the middle and a number of guys they picked up in the offseason in the middle,” Chudzinski said. “They have the outside guys, as far as the pass-rushers go with (Courtney) Upshaw, Suggs and Dumervil. You really look at that front as being a challenging front. They’re getting good linebacker play as well, and Lardarius Webb is back in the secondary. He’s playing really good football, so it’ll be a challenge for our offense.”

WEEDEN SHOWS PROGRESS

On Wednesday, Chudzinski talked about the progress quarterback Brandon Weeden has made since the start of the offseason workouts back in April, and what that will ultimately mean for the offense.

“He’s making quicker decisions; he’s grasping the offense better,” Chudzinski said. “I think you saw his toughness and resiliency in that (Miami) game, and as he continues to improve, the production should improve. That’s ultimately what we’re looking for.”

INJURY UPDATES

Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo has been cleared for contact and will practice Wednesday, but offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao (ankle), defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin (calf), and safety T.J. Ward (soreness) will be held out of the on-field work.

Lauvao has been out of action since the middle of training camp with a high-ankle sprain.

“We’ll hold him today, and we’ll continue to get treatment today with him,” Chudzinski said of Lauvao. “We’ll assess as we go and see how he is tomorrow.”