The Browns will be without six key players Thursday because of injuries.
Defensive backs Joe Haden (concussion), Donte Whitner (concussion) and Jordan Poyer (shoulder); wide receivers Brian Hartline (concussion) and Andrew Hawkins (concussion) and quarterback Josh McCown (shoulder/ribs) have been declared out for Cleveland's primetime matchup at Cincinnati.
Safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) and linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle) are each considered questionable. Both players logged significant snaps in Sunday's loss to Arizona. Rookie linebacker Nate Orchard (shoulder) is also questionable and was limited in practice throughout the week.
With McCown out, Austin Davis will assume the role of backup quarterback behind Johnny Manziel, who will make his second start of the season.
"Austin – this is one of the reasons he is here and one of the reasons did what we did with him from a contractual standpoint – is outstanding with his preparation," Browns coach Mike Pettine said Tuesday. "He is as involved with the gameplan, interaction with the coaching staff and interaction with the other quarterbacks taking the mental reps … We feel very confident if Austin did have to get in the game just because of the way he prepares himself. We tell that room as we tell all of our players, but quarterback especially, prepare as if you are the starter."
Without Haden and Whitner, Browns rookie safety Ibraheim Campbell and fellow defensive backs Pierre Desir and Johnson Bademosi are anticipated to have expanded roles. The Browns promoted defensive back De'Ante Saunders from the practice squad Wednesday. Saunders typically played safety during the preseason.
Without Hartline and Hawkins, Cleveland is anticipated to dress four wide receivers, and Dwayne Bowe and Marlon Moore promise to have expanded roles. Rookie running back Duke Johnson Jr. (33 receptions, 331 yards, TD) could also be more of a factor in the passing game.
"I think that's something we came out of Sunday knowing that he can do some damage out of the backfield or even split out as a wide out," Pettine said. "His reps might have to lean a little bit more that way."
Cincinnati offensive lineman Andre Smith (concussion) is the only Bengals player ruled out for Thursday's game. Starting defensive players LB Rey Maualuga (calf) and DL Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) are questionable.