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Game Preview: Browns-Raiders

Posted Dec 1, 2012

The Cleveland Browns return to the road for the second time in three weeks with Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.

The Cleveland Browns spent the week preparing to play an Oakland Raiders team that is full of talented players who are getting healthy for the final part of the 2012 regular season.

Oakland running back Darren McFadden has missed four consecutive games with an ankle injury. McFadden is one of three Oakland running backs, along with Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson, who were limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He was listed as “questionable” for the game on the team’s Friday injury report.

Even with the ankle injury and missed time, McFadden still leads the Raiders with 455 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yard score, on 139 carries this season.

“They’re a very talented football team and he’s a huge talent, extremely fast, faster than players generally have a feel for,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said of McFadden. “You’ve got to have an edge on every defense. He can outrun you with force and still turn the corner and gain yards.

“You definitely don’t want to see him in the open field. They’ll use him out of the backfield to catch the ball. They’ll flank him out as a receiver. He’s a very dynamic player. I don’t know if he was the first pick in the draft, but he was top five and you can see why whenever you see him on tape.”

In addition to McFadden, the Raiders have another offensive weapon in quarterback Carson Palmer. He has completed 271 of 449 attempts (60.4 percent) for 3,181 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He has thrown a 64-yard touchdown pass to Goodson, averages 7.08 yards per attempt and carries an 84.1 quarterback rating.

Second-year wide receiver Denarius Moore has been one of Palmer’s favorite targets this season. Third on the Raiders with 36 receptions, Moore has gained 604 yards and scored six touchdowns, both lead the team.

“He’s still capable of making every throw on the field,” middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “He has a great arm. It’s a lot (that) goes into a season from a quarterback’s standpoint. A lot of his games, he’s been playing from behind, so it’s forced him to do things that they don’t want to do. Like the Cincinnati game, they jumped out on them pretty early so they were forced to pass the ball a little bit more. Carson Palmer, I’ve played against him for many years over in Cincinnati. He’s still willing and able to make those throws and be successful in this league.”

Palmer will be throwing against a Jackson-led Browns defense that registered seven sacks on Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago and forced eight total turnovers in a 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.

They limited Dallas and Pittsburgh to a combined 118 rushing yards.

“They played outstanding,” Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden said of the defense. “They put that game on their shoulders and they played lights out. Looking back, we should’ve capitalized a few more times on offense, but overall, words can’t express how well they played. Everything you could possibly ask out of a defense, they got it done against a very, very good football team, especially a really good offense with really good running backs.”

Jackson, named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after making nine total tackles, in addition to one pass breakup, one forced fumble and a recovery against the Steelers, said the Browns have an opportunity to turn a corner with Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

“I go back to the start of the season where we played well defensively,” Jackson said. “The next week and the week after, we didn’t play so well. This is another opportunity to show that we can carry over what we did in the previous week over to Oakland. It’s been talked about from all the veterans, so hopefully, we can get it done.

“It starts with Oakland. That’s the biggest test. No matter how we played the previous week, to be successful in this league from an individual standpoint and the team standpoint, we’ve got to be consistent and we’re going to see come Sunday.”

Offensively, the Browns will work against a Raiders defense that has allowed at least 34 points over the last four games, including 55 at Baltimore and 38 to New Orleans in back-to-back weeks.

Oakland’s 11 opponents have averaged 379.0 yards of total offense, 131.2 on the ground and 247.8 through the air. Opposing quarterbacks have combined for 247 completions for 2,829 yards and 23 touchdowns against six interceptions. They have carried a combined quarterback rating of 101.9.

Despite the statistics, the Browns know they will face a challenge from the Raiders’ defense, specifically with starting linemen that average 6-foot-5 and more than 307 pounds.

“They’re big, talented guys,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think it’s fair to say that they’re playing a little bit more zone than they did a year ago. There are some new faces, although there are some guys on that defense that are very recognizable. For the most part, they don’t line up too much differently than they did last year. The coverages are just a little bit different.”

Offensive coordinator Brad Childress added, “I start with the defensive front and they have a chance to give you a handful, just along the defensive front. Whether (Richard) Seymour’s in there or he’s not in there, Tommie Kelly’s a very good player in there. (Matt) Shaughnessy’s playing good at the one end position. When I start with the defensive front and linebackers, those are some big, old (players) that can play football.”

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