Skip to main content


5 things to know the day after Browns' loss to Pittsburgh

1. Update on Andrew Hawkins

Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, who suffered a concussion during Sunday's fourth quarter, returned to Cleveland on Monday after spending the night at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said the tests Hawkins underwent were negative. Hawkins, who missed the previous two games before Sunday's because of a separate concussion, is in the league's protocol moving forward.

Pettine did not provide injury updates for defensive lineman Randy Starks (knee) or wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion).

If Gabriel and Hawkins aren't ready for Cleveland's next game, a Monday Night showdown with the Ravens, it will mark the second time this month the Browns will be down to four healthy wide receivers.

"That's very tough knowing that the wear and tear and amount of plays you want to be out there as a group," wide receiver Travis Benjamin said. "We know that we can rotate and get certain guys on plays, but with those guys going down, it just puts more toughness on us, but we as a receiver group, we're willing to go in there and compete still without those guys."

2. Pettine's thoughts on Manziel

In the immediate aftermath of Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh, Pettine called Johnny Manziel's performance a "big step forward" in his development as an NFL quarterback.

Twenty-four hours later, his praise was even stronger for the second-year quarterback, who finished with a career-high 372 yards on 33-of-45 passing.

"The film showed it even more. He showed significant progress," Pettine said.

Two things stuck out to Pettine in particular.

The first was how Manziel remained poised and bounced back from the fumble he lost on the Browns' first offensive play of the game. The second was Manziel's patience within the pocket and how he properly mixed and utilized the threat he provides on the run.

"That is what good quarterback play is all about," Pettine said. "He did a much better job of that this game then he did before.

"I just thought the improvement that he made from the Cincinnati game to this one, it was a leap."

3. The biggest surprises to Pettine

Asked which aspects of the team surprised him most heading into the bye week with a 2-8 record, Pettine cited the performance of the offensive line and secondary.

On Sunday, the Browns rushed for 15 yards and Manziel was sacked six times. On defense, the Browns, who were without Donte Whitner and Joe Haden for a second consecutive game, surrendered more than 400 yards passing.

Haden missed five of Cleveland's 10 games before the bye because of a variety of injuries.

"I know it's been a frustrating year for Joe and that's had a ripple effect," Pettine said. "It essentially pushes Tramon (Williams) to the No. 1 corner, pushed Pierre (Desir) or even we had (Charles) Gaines out there, (Johnson) Bademosi to the No. 2. That's not what their role was intended to be but when they get pushed up and they're out there in those roles probably sooner than they should be, that's the effect that it has. I don't want to lay all of our defensive struggles on not having Joe Haden, but that's certainly a part of it."

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said the team's struggle to consistently run the football can't be pegged to one, specific recurring problem.

"You can't say, 'If we clean this up, we will have it solved,'" Thomas said. "I give credit to what Pittsburgh did this past weekend having some really excellent blitzes and looks dialed up to some of our runs that we did get called. We hit them on a couple, and they obviously had some good things lined up for what we were going to do. They hit us on a couple, and then because of the circumstances, we weren't really able to do much else the rest of the game running the ball."

4. Understanding the 'why'

Pettine said he laid out the objectives for the bye week to Browns players Monday and said the time would be used to understand the "why" behind the team's 2-8 start.

"The fact of the matter is that we are not playing good enough football," Pettine said. "We are not playing complete football games. We are not playing well enough. We are not coaching well enough. That all has to be improved. We are not going to look back and make excuses and talk about 'what ifs.' We own the fact that our record is what it is. We are going to come to an understanding of the why and do what we can to get it fixed. It gives us the opportunity to do just that."

For his own self-evaluation, Pettine said he'd have to be careful in his assessment and "walk the middle ground between questioning everything that you do."

"You don't want to wholesale question what you're doing but you have to isolate it," Pettine said. "I think it falls back to when you have negative plays you look at the why. Is it something schematic? Is it something from a technique standpoint or is it something from a personnel standpoint? As you pile up answers in each category that steers you to a solution."

5. The upcoming schedule

The Browns on Tuesday will return for a practice Pettine described as "more of a teaching day." The team will follow with a full-pads practice Wednesday before receiving five days away from the training facility.

Pettine and the coaching staff will hang around a little longer. The Browns will begin their on-field preparations for the Ravens on the following Tuesday.

"We have six games to go, and we are going to treat it like six one-game seasons," Thomas said. "Each one of those games, we are going to prepare to win in the best manner possible and try to make the best of it."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content