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Cleveland Browns-St. Louis Rams Preview

Posted Aug 23, 2014

Nuggets and tidbits before Saturday's game

Welcome back to the Dawg Pound

  • The five best improvements made to FirstEnergy Stadium.
  • The Browns started the preseason with back to back road games and can’t wait to hear all of Cleveland roaring in their newly renovated stadium. It’ll be nearly impossible for you to read this Mike Pettine quote and not get pumped for the start of the NFL season here in Cleveland.
  • “That’s one of the things we’re looking forward to the most,” said Pettine. “We played back to back on the road. That’s great – got used to traveling. I just think we need to start to develop that relationship with our fans. Get the Dawg Pound rolling again. We know the best way to do that is go out there and play great football.”

What you need to know about the Browns

  • Every competition for a starting position has been settled in Cleveland. The starting lineup you see on Saturday against the Rams should pretty much mirror the one the Browns line up Week One against Pittsburgh. Quarterback Brian Hoyer now has his chance to establish the identity on offense.  Guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco were lightly challenged, but now get to improve their communication in the zone blocking scheme as starters. Head coach Mike Pettine said Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson will be sharing the inside linebacker position alongside Karlos Dansby. And because of Buster Skrine’s thumb injury, Justin Gilbert will start his second straight preseason game at cornerback.
  • Somebody has to make a big play down the field at the wide receiver position. Perhaps all it will take for the Browns’ offense to start clicking on all cylinders is a deep bomb down to speedster Andrew Hawkins to open the game. Maybe it’s Josh Gordon on a double move, or a Jordan Cameron deep post. But the passing game has to get it’s groove back. It may seem unconventional to attack defenses using all of your offensive ammo in the preseason, but the Browns need to prove to themselves they have enough firepower on offense to knock back a potential top 10 Rams defense.
  •  The goal line stand and four turnovers were gigantic for the Browns’ confidence last week in Washington. But the players and coaching staff really do want to cut down on some of the big plays they gave up to the Redskins.

What you need to know about the Rams

  • Last Sunday, Sam Bradford took his first official game snaps since tearing his ACL last October. The Rams’ starting quarterback led an eight-play, 76-yard drive against the Packers, culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks. The 26-year-old Bradford looked extremely sharp for most of the game against Green Bay, going 9-for-12 and 101 yards passing. Bradford must prove there won’t be any rust after surgery and needs a strong game on Saturday in Cleveland to build upon this momentum. Many are calling this a make or break year for Bradford in St. Louis.   
  • The Rams are hopeful linebacker Alec Ogletree can continue to blossom into a star. Everybody already knows how dominant the St. Louis defensive line is. But the Rams need continued help on the back end of the defense. In 2013, Ogletree notched 117 tackles, forced six fumbles, defended 10 passes and scored a 98-yard touchdown on an interception return.  
  • Rookie defensive end Michael Sam is currently in a dead heat battling fellow teammate Ethan Westbrooks for a roster spot on the defensive line. The 6-foot-2, 261-pound Sam registered a sack last week against Packers quarterback Matt Flynn. But Westbrooks, an undrafted rookie from West Texas A&M, has been equally as impressive.

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