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Game Preview: Browns-Bengals

Posted Sep 15, 2012

CINCINNATI -- The Cleveland Browns open the road portion of the 2012 regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium.

CINCINNATI -- For the second consecutive season, the Cleveland Browns open up play against the AFC North Division with the Cincinnati Bengals. They make their first road trip of the 2012 regular season to play the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Browns go into the first of two matchups with the Bengals on the heels of a 17-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, while Cincinnati is looking for its first win after a 44-13 loss at the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.

Sunday’s game against the Bengals will be the second in the NFL for both Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson. Weeden threw four interceptions in his Browns debut last Sunday.

“Brandon’s been up-tempo,” Richardson said of Weeden. “He knows that we are all behind him and we’ve got to make sure that he knows that we’re all behind him. Brandon’s been doing his job, been throwing (well). He’s feeling good, he’s not down on himself at all.

“Everybody knows they are going to have some ups and downs and Brandon knows that too. We don’t put that on Brandon, we should have put him in better positions. With everything, we’ve got to help our defense out. Brandon’s just been taking control and doing his job.”

Weeden completed 12 of 35 attempts for 118 yards with four interceptions in his NFL debut. He completed a team-best three passes to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in the loss to the Eagles.

Second-year wide receiver Greg Little said the Browns’ pass catchers need to “play faster and be more physical” in order to help Weeden get better throwing lanes.

“On the field, I think we’re doing everything we need to do to better ourselves on Sunday,” Little said. “As far as preparation goes, we stay extra and get extra (reps). I think we’re right on the cusp of bringing ourselves along. This week, we have a chip on our shoulders and we’re just coming out ready to redeem ourselves.”

Weeden and the Browns’ offensive line will contend with a Bengals pass rush that generated three sacks against Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on Monday night.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins registered two sacks for 15 lost yards and Thomas Howard added a third sack for a six-yard setback. Atkins, a former fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, earned an invitation to the 2012 Pro Bowl after a 7.5-sack season last year.

“Up front, they’ve got guys that can rush the passer,” Weeden said. “They’ve got Geno Atkins in the middle, which can cause some trouble as far as run and pass. He’s a good player. Their linebackers are built a little bit different. They’re not speed guys quite like Philly was, but they’re great players. In the middle with (Rey) Maualuga, it kind of starts with him.”

Weeden is also aware that avoiding the rush is only part of the equation in dealing with the Bengals.

“Secondary-wise, they’ve got Taylor Mays and (Reggie) Nelson on the back,” Weeden said. “They’ve got guys that can play back there. They’ve got a bunch of corners that are veteran guys. All these guys are veteran guys that can play. They’re still a four-down team, just built a little bit different. They’re a good defense, as well.”

Defensively, the Browns will contend with second-year quarterback Andy Dalton and Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

Dalton completed 22 of 37 attempts for 221 yards with an interception in the 2012 season-opener. Green was on the receiving end of five passes for 70 yards. He averaged 14.0 yards-per-reception against the Bengals.

“He and Andy Dalton have a great relationship,” said 11-year veteran defensive back Sheldon Brown. “You can tell they spend time together off the field watching film. They adjust routes and Andy will make some throws that young quarterbacks don’t make to young receivers. You can tell they’re putting in the time and he’s making plays for Andy. Andy trusts him that he’ll make a play. Even when he’s covered sometimes, he’ll make that throw.”