The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens will compete against each other for the second time this season when the teams meet at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After the losses of middle linebacker Ray Lewis to a torn triceps muscle and defensive back Lardarius Webb to a season-ending knee injury, the Ravens have a different look to their defense. However, Browns coach Pat Shurmur is still expecting a challenge from the Browns’ AFC North Division counterpart.
“I think they’re an outstanding football team,” Shurmur said. “They’ve played against some pretty good offenses and I think they’re going to be a challenge, just based on who they have out there. I think they’re an extremely good defense. I think it’s dangerous when you start looking at numbers. You want to add up wins. The numbers, sometimes, can be deceiving.”
While Webb and Lewis are out of the lineup, Terrell Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is back on the field after an offseason injury to his Achilles tendon. In his first game back this year, Suggs registered four tackles, three solo stops, one pass defended and a sack for a loss of eight yards in a 43-13 loss at the Houston Texans two weeks ago.
“We watched how they played the last game and Suggs being back, I think he had an impact on the game already,” Shurmur said. “I didn’t see much difference in last year’s version and this year’s version. They had the injuries to Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb and they’ve filled those positions. At this time of year, everybody’s a little bit nicked at certain spots and guys play through things and you get to see role players and backup players in there maybe a little more than they normally would in the beginning of the year. We’re not guessing. We’ve got a pretty good feel for who will be in there.
“I just thought he played a good, all-around game. I saw him being pretty active. He was chasing, batting down passes, making tackles, putting pressure on the quarterback, all the things he does well.”
While the Ravens have Suggs back on the field, the Browns have defensive back
“Having Joe back will help us,” Shurmur said. “If things go well this week, we might have Phil back. We’ve got a couple new pieces. I think the styles of play will be similar. Both teams are a little bit different personnel-wise and that will probably be more of the difference than anything. (Taylor’s) got to have a good week of practice. We’ve got to see him function.”
Led by defensive lineman Haloti Ngata’s team-high 3.5 sacks, Ravens defenders have combined to register 12 sacks for 88 lost yards through the first seven games of the season. Shurmur feels quarterback
“They don’t have any problem bringing pressure,” Shurmur said. “They’ll pressure with their linebackers; they’ll pressure with the safeties. They’ll bring five, six or all of them, so, I think that’s something that he’s got a feel for because he’s got a game against it. Understanding the leverage of the corners play with is important.”
DEFENDING THE RUN
During the team’s first meeting in 2011, Ravens running back Ray Rice rushed for 204 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries. When the teams met in September, the Browns held Rice to 49 yards on just 18 carries.
Rice combined with Bernard Pierce for 97 yards on 24 attempts. Pierce gained 48 yards on six carries.
“We did a decent job on him, but we didn’t do a decent job with the other back,” Shurmur said of Rice. “We know that he’s going to touch the football, so, it’s important that we minimize the damage that the run game can do. When you talk about defending the run, it comes down to team defense, everybody being in the right gap.
“They run quite a bit of zone-type actions, where the backside of the play can become the front side right away. You’ve got to make sure everybody stays in their gaps and we’ve got to try and penetrate. We’ve got to try and disrupt the run, so that you get him going sideways.”
LEADING THE WAY
Led by running back
“I think they’re playing pretty well together,” Shurmur said. “We’re trying to settle on things that we can execute. There’s got to always be an urgency to run the ball better. We’ve got a long way to go, really, in all areas, in my opinion, but I see them playing well together. I thought
Recent rains in the Cleveland area have saturated the practice fields at the team’s Berea training facility. With the team going through their first series of installation on Wednesday, Shurmur elected to practice inside the Casey Coleman Fieldhouse.
“You want consistent footing; you don’t want guys slopping around,” Shurmur said. “The new artificial surfaces are a little easier on the legs, so, you can practice on them when you have a choice to practice outside. It’s good to have one. My philosophy in terms of practice is, there’s a lot of new stuff being installed and what you want to do is create an environment where they can focus and concentrate and execute the new stuff. Sometimes, that involves battling the elements. Other times, it doesn’t.”
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