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Browns rule out 4 players vs. Bengals; Joel Bitonio questionable

The Browns will be without a combined four players at two positions Sunday against the Bengals.

Defensive backs Justin Gilbert and Joe Haden and wide receivers Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel were ruled out after Friday's practice. All four players are in the NFL's concussion protocol.

Haden has been out since Cleveland's Nov. 1 loss to Arizona and will miss his seventh game of the year Sunday. This will be the second in a row for Hawkins and Gabriel and first for Gilbert, who suffered his injury on a second-half kick return.

Offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, was one of three players ruled questionable. Bitonio expressed confidence he'd be back on the field for the first time since suffering the injury Nov. 5 against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

"Heavy tape job on it," Pettine said. "I'd be surprised if you could say 'hey, he's 100 percent.' I don't know how many players if you asked them this time of year are 100 percent. He's a tough guy. He'll battle with it."

Linebacker Nate Orchard (groin) and defensive lineman Randy Starks (knee) are also questionable. Orchard played with the injury Monday against the Ravens while Starks was inactive.

Pettine said he's confident the players he'll have available have fully processed and moved on from Monday's dramatic loss to the Ravens. He called the players "resilient" and lauded their ability to "compartmentalize" the sting of losing on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.

"This was as big a test of our ability to do that than any, but we always say it doesn't matter what happened the week before, good or bad," Pettine said. "Whether it was the Baltimore win the first game and the ability to come off of that high and move on to the next one or something as low as the feeling that we all had losing the game the way that we lost it. We rely heavily on our guys' competitiveness, resilience and professionalism."

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