5 things: Browns still uncertain if Terrelle Pryor, Joe Haden will play vs. Bengals

The Browns could be playing the Bengals without two of their best players.

The team on Friday has listed Terrelle Pryor (hamstring) as questionable and cornerback Joe Haden (groin) doubtful for Sunday's game in Cincinnati.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson said the coaching staff will evaluate Pryor's status this weekend and that they'll have to "find a way" to slow down Bengals receiver A.J. Green if Haden indeed can't suit up. [



"That's what it comes down to. If he's not able to go, it's the next man up," Jackson said, "and we have to get it done. That's part of it."

Pryor, who injured himself against the Titans, leads Cleveland with 35 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns.

Haden, who has missed two games because of groin issues, has two interceptions through four games.

Flashes of dominance

Danny Shelton has been a force to reckon with this season. Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said Friday the second-year nose tackle and 2015 first-round draft pick is showing "flashes of dominance."

"We think he can be a Pro Bowl dominant player," he said. "I don't want to put an undue burden on him, but that's what we feel, and we're pushing him to be that."

Shelton lost 30 pounds this past offseason, something Horton said the coaching staff asked him to do in an effort to get the most out of his skillset.

"He has shown flashes of being, wow, dominant in there," Horton said, "and I think the changes we have asked him to make help that."

Jackson added: "He understand the demands of the position and what's expected and he's starting to meet those."

The return

Jackson continued to play down his return to Cincinnati, where he'll reunite with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and his former stomping grounds before coming to Cleveland this past winter.

"I appreciate you asking, but this is not my first rodeo. It's not the first time I've been someplace else and gone someplace else. I've been through this before," he said.

"This is a game we're trying to win so the emotional part will be like you said, there's a lot of memories there. Great memories there, but at the same time, they're trying to beat our team and we're trying to beat their team. I'm sure there will be some high fives and handshakes to people who have meant a lot to my career, but we're there to play a game. That's what we're focused on."

Just a 'good football player'

Duke Johnson Jr. will continue to return punts, but he's worth so much more than just that to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

"I will say this about Duke Johnson and I know that obviously, he does great things for us offensively. What people don't talk about is what he does for us special teams wise," he said.

"Duke has been a returner. He has had big returns. Duke has played personal protector for us on the punt. Duke has played slot on the punt team. Those are multiple positions. Duke can be a kick returner also. Duke came up to me this week and said, 'Hey, put me out there. If you don't want me to return, I can play something else on punt return.'

"He is not a selfish player. He just wants to help the team win. I have a lot of respect for players like that. When he comes into the special teams meeting, he is so dialed in. What people don't see is him helping younger players. This is what the call should be and this is why he is calling it the way he is and those type of things. His value in our room is so much more than just being a returner. There are just a lot of other things. Duke, at the end of the day, is a good football player."

Re-establishing the run

The Browns aren't going to sneak up on teams with their run game anymore. That's been evident the past two weeks as New England and, most recently, Tennessee, shut down Cleveland's powerful rushing attack by loading the box.

But that, associate head coach - offense Pep Hamilton said, is no excuse.

"We have to do a better job that way," he said. "We have to do a better job of finding ways to get both (RB Isaiah Crowell) Crow and Duke into the secondary of the defense and run the ball the way that we expect to run the ball."​

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