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What to Watch For, Presented by Arby's

Posted Sep 18, 2013

The Cleveland Browns continue their two-game road swing with Sunday’s game at the Minnesota Vikings.

The Cleveland Browns look to break a four-game losing streak against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field Sunday.

The Vikings have won four straight games over the Browns, dating back to a 17-13 victory at the Metrodome on Nov. 22, 1992. The Browns last played the Vikings on opening day of the 2009 season, and fell, 34-20, at home.

In their last game against the Browns, then-quarterback Brett Favre completed only 14 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown, but reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson rushed for 180 yards and three scores -- including a 64-yarder in the fourth quarter -- on 25 carries.

The Browns enter Sunday’s game at 0-2 following last week’s 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The Vikings enter their home opener at 0-2 after a 31-30 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

All-time, the Browns are 3-10-0 against the Vikings, and 1-6-0 at Minnesota. Their lone road win was a 23-20 decision on Oct. 26, 1986. The Browns’ last trip to Minnesota resulted in a 24-12 loss on Nov. 27, 2005.

Overall, the Browns are 0-3 against the Vikings in September.

As this week’s game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:

Linebacker Barkevious Mingo. The Browns’ first-round pick in last April’s NFL Draft, Mingo made a successful professional debut in a loss at the Ravens last Sunday. Mingo registered a sack on his first-ever snap, finished the game with two total tackles, and drew a pair of holding penalties, one each on defense and special teams.

Mingo returned to the lineup last Sunday after missing a month while recovering from a bruised lung suffered in the team’s preseason win over the Detroit Lions on Aug. 15.

The Browns’ front seven. The Browns have allowed 119 rushing yards combined between the Miami Dolphins and Ravens in the first two weeks of the regular season and have registered six sacks on Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco.

By shutting out the Ravens in the first half last week, the Browns became the second team in 28 years to shut out the defending Super Bowl champions in the first half of their home opener. It last happened when Carolina shut out Tampa Bay in 2003.

Tight end Jordan Cameron. Over the first two games of the regular season, the third-year Browns tight end has emerged as a favorite target of quarterback Brandon Weeden.

After catching nine of the 13 passes fired in his direction and gaining 108 yards -- both career highs -- with a seven-yard touchdown against the Dolphins in Week One, Cameron followed up five catches for a game-high 95 yards against the Ravens.

Cameron leads the Browns with 14 catches and 203 receiving yards. He is tied for 10th in the league for receptions, and is tied for first for receptions among tight ends. Cameron trails only Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints for the most receiving yards by a tight end this season.

Browns offensive linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Thomas has started each of the 98 games he has played since being selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and is currently tied for sixth for the most consecutive starts among active NFL offensive linemen. Mack has started 66 straight games for the Browns.

Adrian Peterson. Much like he has been in past years, Peterson has proven to be one of Minnesota’s greatest offensive threats in 2013. Peterson has rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries (4.4 yards per rush), and has added five receptions out of the backfield.

Last fall, Peterson was coming off of surgery to repair a torn ACL, and on 348 carries, he rushed for 12 touchdowns and 2,097 yards, and finished nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s NFL record for the most rushing yards in a single season.

Minnesota wide receiver Jerome Simpson. Simpson leads the Vikings with nine receptions for 189 yards. The former Cincinnati Bengals wideout has eight catches for 89 yards in his career against the Browns.

Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson. Henderson is among the Vikings’ defensive leaders with 16 total tackles, including 12 solo stops. Henderson has also registered an interception, which he returned for a 10-yard gain, in the Vikings’ season-opening loss to the Lions.

The Browns return to FirstEnergy Stadium for the Battle of Ohio against the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday. After spending two weeks on the road at the start of the season, the Vikings will continue a three-game home-stand against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

CONNECTIONS

Browns outside linebackers coach Brian Baker coached the Vikings’ defensive line in 2001, and again from 2004-05, as well as their linebackers from 2002-03.

Cleveland’s assistant strength-and-conditioning coach Chris DiSanto was Minnesota’s strength-and-conditioning intern in 2007.

Browns tight end Marqueis Gray was a quarterback and wide receiver at the University of Minnesota. He passed for 2,053 yards and 14 touchdowns, rushed for 1,731 yards and 12 scores, and gained 766 receiving yards with six touchdown receptions.

Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was born in Cincinnati, and was an All-American at Archbishop Elder High School, where he is the school’s second-leading scorer and only the second Panther ever to score more than 1,000 points. He was also an all-conference basketball player.

Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier was the Bengals’ defensive coordinator from 2003 to 2004.

Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is a Cleveland native, and coached at Youngstown State University (1997-98) where he was a part of the Penguins’ Division I-AA National Championship team in 1997 under Berea native Jim Tressel.

Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was born in Akron, and went to North High School in the Columbus suburb of Westerville. He earned All-Big Ten Conference recognition and served as a team captain during his senior year at The Ohio State University.

Minnesota linebackers coach Fred Pagac played college football at Ohio State from 1971-73, and was on a team that went 25-6-2 overall and 19-3 in the Big Ten Conference. He served as a graduate assistant under the late Woody Hayes in 1978, and went on to coach the Buckeyes’ linebackers from 1982-95. Pagac was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator from 1996-99, and assistant head coach in 2000.

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods started his coaching career at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, in 1992, and later, mentored Kent State University’s defensive backs in 1997.

MEDIA

Fans can watch Sunday’s game at 1 p.m./ET on local CBS affiliate, WOIO-TV 19. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Solomon Wilcots (color analyst) will call the action.

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.

“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.