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Game Preview: Browns-Dolphins

Posted Sep 7, 2013

The 2013 regular season gets underway Sunday when the Cleveland Browns host the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Sunday’s regular-season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium will be a meeting of second-year quarterbacks Brandon Weeden, of the Cleveland Browns, and Ryan Tannehill, of the Miami Dolphins.

During his rookie season, Tannehill completed 282 passes for 3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He was sacked 35 times for 234 lost yards and had a quarterback rating of 76.1.

In this year’s preseason games, Tannehill completed 34 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover.

“He’s a young guy, and you can see how he’s grasping things better on the field,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of Tannehill. “He’s extremely talented, has a great arm, is very accurate, and he can really run. He can move, he’s mobile, he can extend plays, and he can hurt you from that aspect. It’s something we’ve got to make sure we’re approaching.”

Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton added, “He was able to mature. Statistically, they want better, and I think they think he’s going to be better in his second year. What I’m most impressed with is his poise. He moves well. He’s athletic. He’s a former wide receiver in college, so he understands everything, pass routes, coverages. He’s got touch on the passes. I believe he was the top-ranked quarterback on completions over 21 yards last year. He’ll grow with the system and the players.”

This offseason, the Dolphins added some offensive weapons for Tannehill to use, namely speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace through free agency.

“It’s always good going against talent like him,” said Browns defensive back Joe Haden. “Going up against the best is the way you get to measure yourself. Going against Wallace, he’s one of the players I look forward to playing ever since I’ve been a Brown. Now, we’re going against him again. He’s still fast as hell.

“I like to go up against Mike. I want to go up against the best receivers from each team. He’s a runner. He’s a really good runner. As long as he doesn’t get behind me, if we let him catch some hitches and comebacks and stuff, that won’t kill us.”

Chudzinski described Wallace as a wide receiver that “has rare speed.”

“He can run by and get behind guys, and it’s amazing how he can do that,” Chudzinski recalled. “He’s always a big-play threat out there, and everybody knows about his speed, but he can run routes as well and catch the ball. He’s a real playmaker, and a guy you have to account for.”

In addition to contending with the speed of Wallace and Tannehill’s down-the-field accuracy, the Browns must work against a physical, aggressive pass rush from Miami’s front seven, namely defensive end Cameron Wake.

Originally an undrafted free agent that could not land a spot on an NFL roster, Wake took his game to the Canadian Football League and spent two seasons with the B.C. Lions. After getting a second chance to chase down his NFL dream, Wake made it count.

In his rookie season of 2009, Wake had 5.5 quarterback sacks. He followed that up with 14 more in 2010, and set a career best with 15 in 16 games last season. Overall, Wake has 43 sacks in four seasons.

“Their defensive line is really talented,” said six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. “They’ve got one of the best defensive ends in the NFL in Cameron Wake. They’ve got three outstanding inside players at defensive tackle.

“They’ve got a stud in the middle at linebacker in Dannell Ellerbe, who came in from Baltimore. Their other ‘backers and defensive end are also really good, solid players. They play well together. They play hard, and it’s going to be a great challenge for our offense.”

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