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Browns run game ready to play a complete game against Texans defensive front

Houston limited Cleveland to just 54 rushing yards in Week 16


The Browns and Texans will face each other in two days for the first game of Wild Card weekend. The Browns finished the regular season second in the AFC North, while the Texans won the AFC South. In their previous game in Week 16, the Browns won but the Texans defensive front was dominant.

They played once in the regular season in Week 16, and the Browns won the game 36-22. However, the Texans defensive front won the battle in the trenches. The Texans limited the Browns to just 54 net rushing yards, the second-lowest total for the Browns in a game this season. RB Jerome Ford averaged 1.7 yards per carry, while RB Kareem Hunt averaged 1.6 yards per carry.

"They had a really good front and the linebackers also played really well," Ford said. "I think overall their scheme was really good and I don't feel like us as running backs did enough on the ground as far as our athleticism and what we can possibly do."

The Texans were without DT Sheldon Rankins, DE Will Anderson Jr., and DE Jonathan Greenard but still managed to stop the Browns rush attack with the help of DT Maliek Collins Sr., DE Jerry Hughes Jr., DE Derek Barnett and DT Khalil Davis. 

"They're a great rush unit, I think, across the board," OL Coach Scott Peters said. "And not only Collins and Rankins, they have excellent interior rushers, so they create a lot of pressure themselves. The edge rushers are excellent, too, but their depth is all good, too."

Saturday's Wild Card game could be a different story, though. The Texans are expected to have Anderson Jr. and Rankins, as both played last week against the Colts. Both players also practiced this week in a limited capacity. If both of those guys play against the Browns run game, it could make for a difficult battle in the trenches again.

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All season, the Texans have excelled in stopping the run. The Texans defense is second in the league, holding opposing runners to 3.5 yards per carry. They are also sixth in the league with 1,643 rushing yards allowed. They also force fumbles and recover them. This season, they have forced 15 fumbles and recovered 10. In Week 17 against the Titans, Hughes strip sacked QB Will Levis, and Rankins scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown.

After watching a film on the Texans from the last three weeks, the Browns running backs are confident they can make adjustments and have a better outing on Saturday.

"I feel like this week we're looking at competing and showing a little bit more running the ball a little bit better," Ford said. "Having that second kick in the second half and not just stalling out in the second half and being able to finish out the game. That's really what it's about. Finishing out the game, finishing strong."

The Browns run game aims to play aggressively for all 60 minutes, doing whatever it takes to help the team win. Despite struggling against the Texans defensive front in Week 16, the Browns run game scored two rushing touchdowns. It could be a big win for the unit if they can find the end zone again on Saturday. The Texans have allowed 19 rushing touchdowns this season, the sixth worst in the league.

"I think anytime the run game is struggling, there's usually a bust on the block or one or two plays here and there," G Joel Bitonio said. "I know we're taking shots. We were trying to throw the ball downfield, but they have a good defense. They're pretty elite against the run all year. I think it comes down to execution for us and guys getting on blocks and staying on blocks."