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Browns shift gears in a hurry for 'huge challenge' in Cincinnati

The circumstances aren't ideal, but the Browns won't dare call them insurmountable.

Cleveland enters Thursday's primetime matchup with the undefeated Bengals reeling from a third consecutive loss and beaten up from an injury standpoint in multiple areas. It's a different feeling than 2014, but the Browns' goal remains unchanged.

"You would ideally like to be coming off a victory going into a short week but that's what we get paid for, to be professionals," safety Tashaun Gipson said. "You just have to put each game behind you, win, lose or draw. Each opponent is different and each outcome could potentially be different. We have to put everything behind us."

The process of doing just that began Monday, as players arrived early in the morning to workout and review film of Sunday's 34-20 loss to the Cardinals. After an afternoon break, the team will return this evening to begin their preparations for the Bengals, who moved to 7-0 with their win Sunday at Pittsburgh.

The status of starting quarterback Josh McCown (shoulder/ribs) and a handful of other, injured Browns was no clearer when coach Mike Pettine spoke with reporters Monday afternoon on a conference call.

"It is a huge challenge," Pettine said. "I have a feeling a lot of people outside of this building aren't going to give them much of a chance. To me, that is the beauty of sports. We get to go down there and play. Just like last year, similar circumstances, and we went down there and played one of our best games.

"We know when our minds are right and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and playing at a high level emotionally and physically that we can play with anybody. We have to go down there with that mentality."

Because it's such a short week, Cleveland's practices will be light by design and include all players outside of the four -- wide receivers Andrew Hawkins and Brian Hartline, safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Joe Haden -- who are in the league's concussion protocol. Pettine equated Monday's and Tuesday's sessions to a "jog-through/walkthrough" before the team departs for Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Asked if he feels the need to "light a fire" under his team after it fell to 2-6, Pettine said the Browns "have gotten to that point already."

"As I said earlier in the week, we need to be better for longer. Some of our issues had been in the first half of games. It is just something we will continue to address and to work on," Pettine said. "Thursday gives us a great opportunity to change that as we enter the second half of the season."

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