5 things: Bengals present 'tremendous challenge' with or without A.J. Green

  1. With Robert Griffin set to return as the Browns quarterback, head coach Hue Jackson expressed the need to give Griffin the "benefit of the doubt" in what will be his second start in as many seasons.

"Here is a young player who has not played in a while," he said Friday. "There could be a lot of rust there, and there could not be."

Griffin, whom the team named the starter earlier this week, was officially activated after spending the past 12 weeks on injured reserve. Sunday will be his first appearance since the season opener, when he broke a bone in his shoulder.

  1. When the Bengals come to town, they'll be without star receiver A.J. Green (hamstring), who caught eight catches for 169 yards and a touchdown against the Browns earlier this year, and running back Giovani Bernard. But don't tell that to Jackson, who played down the idea of Cincinnati being at less than full strength, as he pointed to quarterback Andy Dalton and linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

"They have good players, good coaches, good football team, so again it is a tremendous challenge for us. I know a lot of people – when you lose your best players it is different, no doubt," he said, "but they still have a lot of good players and they still have their quarterback. They have the quarterback of their offense, quarterback of their defense, and the quarterback of their special teams is back, (Bengals RB) Cedric Peerman, so they are a good football team."

  1. Jackson, who spent seven seasons in Cincinnati under coach Marvin Lewis, said he remains friendly with Bengals players who expressed admiration for the former offensive coordinator. For example, Burfict said "he's still one of the coaches I look up to and a coach I respect. I love the guy." [


Jackson, asked about that sentiment on Friday, smiled and said he's heard it loud and clear from former players, "but that is part of it."

"I have a lot of respect for those guys. Those guys, they gave me everything they have offense, defense and special teams while I was there, so I have a lot of respect for them but I'm trying to beat them on Sunday just like they are trying to beat me.

"It is a part of respect that we have for each other, and I have tremendous respect for everybody there, but I am trying to win a game. My personal feelings has nothing to do with this game. The personal relationships I have have nothing to do with this game. This is about winning and losing, and so that is what it will be about on Sunday."

  1. The Browns expect everyone — including defensive backs Joe Haden, Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams — on the injury report to play this weekend. Only Taylor was limited in Friday's practice. In addition to returning Griffin to the starting lineup, that's good news for a Browns team that's had to deal with an array of injuries all season long.
  1. For the time being, the Browns want Corey Coleman to focus on playing receiver instead of doubling as the team's punt returner. "When it's time, we'll give him a shot," special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said.

Coleman, who returned kicks before a broken hand sidelined for five weeks, is still working his way back into the offense. "Right now he's playing a lot of offense and he's still continuing to work at his craft catching the ball," Tabor said.

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