For the fourth time in four weeks, the Browns will have to keep tabs on a Pro Bowl wide receiver.
This time it's A.J. Green as Cleveland prepares to host the Bengals following a disappointing 0-3 start. And if the young Browns want to earn their first victory, head coach Hue Jackson made clear they'll need to lock down the six-time Pro Bowler.
"We have another really good receiver walking in here this weekend," he said Wednesday, "and our goal is we need to slow him down."
Through three games, elite wide receivers have posed problems for a new-look defense still coming into form. While the Browns held Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and the Ravens receivers to five catches for 38 yards in Week 2, they struggled to contain Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown in the season opener (11 catches, 182 yards) and, most recently, Indianapolis' T.Y. Hilton, who caught seven balls for 153 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's loss.
"We have to slow them down," Jackson said. "It's just that simple. We're learning things about our guys. They're learning things about how we do things. We have to do it better and they will be the first to tell you that."
Hitlton's performance, in particular, ignited a first half that saw the Colts score 28 points after combining for 22 in their first two games. Rookie safety Jabrill Peppers said Cleveland knows it can't make those same mistakes this weekend against Green, veteran quarterback Andy Dalton and a host of versatile running backs, including rookie Joe Mixon.
"(Dalton) has phenomenal talent around him," Peppers said. "He can put the throws where they need to be so we are definitely making it a point of emphasis to be where we need to be and have our eyes where they need to be as well."
Before a hamstring injury sidelined Green for the final six games of the 2016 season, he put together a highlight-reel performance against the Browns in Cincinnati, catching eight passes for 168 yards and a 48-yard Hail Mary touchdown.
Though the Bengals — once widely considered of the league's top offenses — have recently struggled in the pass game, Jackson said the Browns can't be lulled into a false sense of security.
They can't forget about Green.
"It's just that simple," he said, "and that's what we're going to set out to do."