Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: Who's stepping up at the No. 3 WR position?

It's the Black Friday edition of the Browns Mailbag, and we're delivering 100 percent of the content we always do in this enjoyable, family-friendly installment.

What are the chances of Coach Freddie Kitchens bringing Eric Dungey up to the 53-man roster to run the wishbone that Freddie is always talking about. Eric could run the option in college and gave other teams in the ACC fits. The Browns could call the offense "The Dawg Bone." Just a thought. - Gary C., Cantonment, Florida

I will pass along your suggestion, especially when it comes to naming whatever that package would look like. There's no reason to believe this kind of formation and, specifically, this kind of usage of Dungey, who is currently on the practice squad, is in the Browns' immediate or distant future. You're right about Dungey, though. He rushed no fewer than 91 times in his four seasons at Syracuse, and he topped out at 184 as a senior. He nearly hit 2,000 rushing yards for his career. So, yes, this is very much in his skill set.

Kitchens sure likes to mention the Wishbone package Cleveland rolled out in a win over the Falcons last season, but we haven't seen anything resembling it since.

"We have not gotten the wishbone package out there yet, four backs in the backfield at the same time and all of that kind of stuff," Kitchens said on a Monday conference call. "Yeah, I am very excited about it. Hopefully, we can get it called this week."

Why hasn't Rashard Higgins been the No. 3 receiver when clearly he understands routes better than the others. Hello, he's the reason they beat the Bills!! -- Jon S., Columbus

Higgins' snaps have remained consistent to what they were for that Bills game, when he secured his first touchdown of the season at the most pivotal of times. In the last three games, Higgins has played 33, 28 and 24 snaps, respectively. Those are, easily, the third-most snaps among wide receivers during those games, so it's safe to call Higgins the Browns' No. 3 receiver at this point of the season.

Just because he is getting the third-most snaps, though, doesn't mean the Browns have to use him in every scenario involving three wide receivers. KhaDarel Hodge has emerged as a reliable pass-catcher who has earned playing time because of his strong work on special teams. Hodge played seven snaps against the Bills, 10 against the Steelers and nine against the Dolphins. He made one of the biggest plays of his NFL career when he hauled in a 41-yard pass from Baker Mayfield against Pittsburgh.

"He knows what to do, knows how to and knows when to do it," Kitchens said in the days following the Pittsburgh game. "He made a big play in the game the other day, which was good to see that he can take it from the practice field to the game field. We saw a lot of things on the practice field like we saw in the game the other day."

First things first: the Browns have to take care of their own business not only this weekend against the Steelers, but also the vast majority of the remainder of the schedule to have any shot at the postseason. Even if Cleveland runs the table, nothing is guaranteed. It just becomes a lot more probable if it does. One loss puts the Browns in a scenario they faced last year down the stretch as they carried slim playoff hopes up until their eventual Week 16 elimination.

That said, Buffalo is for real, and it makes Cleveland's slump-busting win over the Bills that much more impressive. The Bills are in good position to nab that first Wild Card spot and still have an outside shot of winning their own division. The last spot will truly come down to the wire, and the Browns will be in the mix if they keep winning. 

The Steelers, Raiders, Titans and Colts are all 6-5. A win over Pittsburgh on Sunday would, obviously, be huge, but it wouldn't necessarily eliminate the Steelers from playoff contention. It'd just give the Browns a nice tiebreaker over their AFC North rival and a confidence boost heading down the final stretch of the regular season. Oakland has two huge games over the next two weeks against the Chiefs and Titans. The Titans play the Colts this week and still have two more games with the Texans. The Colts have it a little easier after this week, and oddly still have three games against NFC opponents left on their schedule, but they won't feel good about their prospects if they drop Sunday's game against Tennessee.

That's a long way of saying there's a LOT of football left to be played. Ten wins might be enough to get that final spot without having to worry about tiebreakers. It's safe to say nine would either not be enough or require some tiebreakers to go Cleveland's way. We're a long way from worrying about those. For the Browns, it's simple. Just keep winning.

Kitchens said Friday the Browns are in "wait-and-see" mode with David Njoku, who returned to practice last week. The talented tight end hasn't seen the field since suffering a wrist injury Week 2 against the Jets. The Browns will need to make a decision on Njoku by Dec. 11. If he's not activated to the 53-man roster by then, he'll be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Of course not. It is a side dish and place in a similar category as fries, onion rings, beans, etc.

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