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What to Watch For, Presented by Arby's

Posted Oct 2, 2013

The Cleveland Browns renew their interstate rivalry with the Buffalo Bills on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.

The Battle of Interstate 90 between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills goes primetime on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football, and both teams are looking to improve on their 2-2 records after impressive victories last Sunday.

This year’s game will mark the third time in their history that the Browns will play the Bills in prime time, and it will be the second meeting in Cleveland. Each team won one of the previous meetings, and did so on the road.

Buffalo won the first meeting, 22-19, in Cleveland on Monday, Oct. 2, 1995, and the Browns returned the favor, 29-27, at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Monday, Nov. 17, 2008.

During the 2008 Monday Night Football affair, kicker Phil Dawson converted a 56-yard field-goal attempt with 46 remaining in the game. It was the longest kick of Dawson’s career with the Browns, and gave the team its second consecutive win on the Monday night stage.

The Browns are 10-7-0, and 5-4-0 in home games against the Bills, who ended 2012 with a 6-10 record and fourth-place finish in the AFC East Division.

As this year’s game, presented by Cleveland Clinic, unfolds, there are several players to keep an eye on:

Linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Mingo made history in Sunday’s win of the Cincinnati Bengals. By sacking quarterback Andy Dalton in the first half, Mingo extended his consecutive games with a sack streak to three.

Mingo is the only Browns player, and the first NFL player since Tommie Kelly in 2004, to register at least one sack in each of his first three games.

Mingo leads all NFL rookies with three sacks, and is looking to become the first NFL player since Baltimore outside linebacker Terrell Suggs registered a sack in his first four games during the 2003 season.

Defensive back Joe Haden. The challenges continue for Haden, and the fourth-year cornerback has continued to answer them. After facing speedy receivers in Miami’s Mike Wallace and Baltimore’s Torrey Smith in his first two games, Haden lined up against Cincinnati’s A.J. Green last Sunday.

Haden held Green to 53 yards and no touchdowns on seven receptions. Green was targeted with 15 passes in the loss to the Browns.

This week, Haden gets to match up against Steve Johnson, who has gained 235 yards and scored two touchdowns on 18 receptions through four games.

Haden has defended 52 passes in 46 career games, an average of 1.13 per game since the 2010 season. That is the second-most of any NFL player with 50 pass breakups since the start of the 1994 season.

Tight end Jordan Cameron. Cameron caught 10 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown in the Browns’ win over Cincinnati last Sunday. Cameron leads the team with 360 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 30 catches.

Cameron’s 30 catches rank fifth in the NFL in receptions and first among tight ends. He is 11th in the NFL in receiving yards, third among all tight ends, and tied for third in scoring among non-kickers.

His five receiving touchdowns in September ties the NFL record for tight ends, and Cameron’s 30 catches rank him first in team history for the most receptions by a tight end in the first four games of the season. His 360 receiving yards rank second in Browns history over the first four games of a season.

With one touchdown Thursday, Cameron would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome as the only Browns tight ends with six or more receiving scores in a single season. Newsome had nine in 1979, and six each in 1981 and 1983. With 10 catches, Cameron would equal Newsome’s mark of the most receptions in back-to-back games.

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon has gained 217 receiving yards in two games this season. It is the highest two-game total of his career. After his career-high 10-catch, 146-yard day against Minnesota two weeks ago, Gordon has six career touchdowns, all of which have been at least 20-yard gains.

Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer. In his first start as a Brown, Hoyer has led the Browns to victories by completing 55 of 92 attempts for 590 yards and five touchdowns against three interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 83.2 in two starts for the Browns.

Hoyer could make Browns history Thursday by becoming the first quarterback to throw for at least two touchdowns and record a win in each of his first three starts with the team.

Last week, Hoyer became the Browns’ first quarterback to win his first two starts since Mark Rypien in 1994.

Browns offensive linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Thomas has started each of the 100 games and taken 6,125 consecutive snaps since being selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Thomas is tied for the third-longest streak of consecutive starts among active NFL offensive linemen.

Mack has started 68 straight games, and begun 4,200 consecutive plays for the Browns.

Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel has completed 74 of his 130 pass attempts (56.9 percent) for 856 yards and five touchdowns against three interceptions in his first four starts with the Bills.

He has connected with 10 different receivers, and could move up the Buffalo record books Thursday. With three touchdown passes, he would move into second place among Bills rookie quarterbacks, and 84 yards would put him in third place among first-year Buffalo signal-callers.

Buffalo wide receiver Steve Johnson. Johnson’s 235 yards and two touchdowns on 18 receptions leads the team.

Johnson enters Thursday’s game one catch away from extending his consecutive games with a reception streak to 53, and is three catches from moving into 11th place in Bills history. Thirty receiving yards will give him 3,500 for his career, and 106 would move him into 10th place in Buffalo history.

Defensive end Mario Williams. Williams has registered 11 total tackles this season, and 5.5 of them have been quarterback sacks. Williams set a career high and Buffalo team record when he registered 4.5 sacks on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.

With one more sack, Williams would reach 70 for his career. He is third in the league with those 5.5 sacks, and has the fifth-most of any NFL player since the start of the 2006 season, when he entered professional football with the Houston Texans.

The Browns conclude their three-game home-stand against the Detroit Lions next Sunday afternoon. The Bills return home to take on the Bengals before heading out on three road trips in the four weeks leading up to their bye week on Nov. 24.

CONNECTIONS

Browns running back Willis McGahee was selected by the Bills in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, and spent the first four years of his career in Buffalo. During that time, McGahee rushed for 3,365 yards and 24 touchdowns on 868 carries. He also caught 68 passes out of the backfield for 503 yards.

Browns running back Dion Lewis (Albany/Albany H.S.), offensive lineman Martin Wallace (New York, N.Y./The Beacon School) and defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi (Queens, N.Y./SUNY-Stony Brook) are New York natives.

Buffalo wide receiver Brad Smith was a two-time Youngstown Offensive Player of the Year at Chaney High School, where he accounted more than 3,900 yards of total offense and 53 total touchdowns. He was also an all-city honoree in basketball.

Bills center Eric Wood went to Elder High School in Cincinnati, where he was a tackle and tight end, and also earned basketball postseason honors during his senior year.

Right tackle Sam Young was born in Dayton.

Tight end Lee Smith is the son of former Brown, the late Daryle Smith.

Bills quality control coach Jason Vrable went to and coached at Marietta College, where he set every quarterback record for the Pioneers. He was the school’s Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2007, and a three-time NCAA Division III Player of the Week in his final two seasons.

Offensive line coach Pat Morris is a native of Cleveland.

Running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley served in the same capacity at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, during the 2008 season.

MEDIA

Fans can watch Thursday’s game at 8:25 p.m./ET on NFL Network as Brad Nessler (play-by-play) and former NFL defensive back Mike Mayock (color analyst) will call the action. The game will air locally on WKYC-TV 3.

The game is also available along the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan, former Browns left tackle Doug Dieken, and Jamir Howerton on the call.

Westwood One Sports will also have the call of the game, as Ian Eagle (play-by-play), former NFL quarterback Trent Green (color analysis) and former linebacker, and Cincinnati native, Rocky Boiman (sidelines), will broadcast the game on SiriusXM Channel 93.

“What to Watch For” is Brought to you by Arby’s. Try the new Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich today. Tender brisket, smoked at least 13 hours and ready when you are. Arby’s. Slicing up Freshness.