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Burning Questions

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Burning Questions for Week 4 vs. Falcons

After a 10-day break, the Browns are heading to Atlanta looking to build a win streak


The Browns are entering Week 4 with a full tank of energy following a 10-day break from a Week 3 win over the Steelers.

Now, a road game against a feisty NFC South opponent awaits. The Falcons are 1-2 and have played in close games each week so far — the largest margin of victory in a game they've played has been just four points. The Browns, meanwhile, will be looking to build their first win streak of the season after their fulfilling win over an AFC North rival.

Here's the biggest questions the Browns face as they head to Atlanta.

1. The latest on Myles Garrett

After he was involved in a one-car accident Monday, Garrett re-joined the team Thursday and is considered questionable for Sunday's game due to shoulder and biceps injuries sustained in the crash.

Garrett was with the team Thursday and Friday but did not practice. He said his gameday status will be up to the training staff and coaches, but he's hoping to play.

"If it were up to me, I would love to go," Garrett said. "That is just my competitive spirit and my nature. Physically, we have to assess that going up to the game, today, tomorrow and on Sunday. That is just another decision that we will make a little bit closer to game time."

Regardless of whether he plays, the Browns were just happy to see Garrett back in the building after a scary start to the week.

"I'm feeling a lot better," he said. "I'm glad that everything worked out in a positive light with my passenger and we're both healthy and walking around. Just blessed to live another day."

Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Atlanta Falcons

2. Who else is injured?

The Browns ruled out OT Joe Haeg (concussion) and DT Taven Bryan (hamstring) and are crossing their fingers on DE Jadeveon Clowney, who was also ruled questionable to play.

Clowney suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and missed the Week 3 win over the Steelers. He didn't practice this week, but the Browns not ruling him out Sunday signals he's close to returning.

"He's battling," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He's getting rehab. He's close."

3. Who steps up on the D-Line?

If Garrett and Clowney are unable to play, the Browns will lean a lot on rookie DEs Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas and six-year veteran Isaac Rochell. 

Wright, a third-round rookie, has played the most among the trio this season and has flashed with two pass breakups and four tackles, although he's still hunting for his first career sack. Rochell was moved from the practice squad to the active roster before Week 3 and has four tackles in two games. Thomas, a seventh-round draft pick, played nine snaps in Week 2 against the Jets.

To replace Bryan, the Browns will turn to DT Tommy Togiai, who has shown signs of growth in his second NFL season. A fourth-round pick from Ohio State in 2021, Togiai tallied a half-sack in Week 1 and has the trust of the coaching staff to hold down the interior in what will be his first career start.

"Tommy has done a nice job really going back to last year," Stefanski said. "When he gets in there, he finds the ball. Plays hard. Strong football player."

4. Who fills in for Anthony Walker Jr.?

Jacob Phillips, who had two of the Browns’ biggest plays on defense to seal the Week 3 win over the Steelers, will replace Walker after he suffered a season-ending quad injury in Week 3. Phillips will be the new starting middle linebacker and serve as the green-dot player for the defense to relay play calls from defensive coordinator Joe Woods. 

Phillips, a three-year veteran who has played 16 games since he was a third-round pick in 2020, is less experienced than Walker, who has played in 63 career games, but the Browns have a lot of confidence in Phillips to lead the defense and have always coveted his excellent speed. 

"I have been very excited about Jacob throughout this past year as we have talked about," Stefanski said after the Steelers game. "Obviously, A-Walk was starting there, but I wouldn't call that an indictment of Jacob. I think he is a really, really good football player and works so hard at this thing. I thought he played well (against Pittsburgh)."

5. Can the offense sustain their momentum?

There's no reason to believe they won't. 

The Falcons entered Week 4 at 22nd in the league in total defense, 26th against the pass and 16th against the run. QB Jacoby Brissett has shown tremendous chemistry with WR Amari Cooper the last two weeks — they've connected 16 times on 21 targets for 202 yards and two touchdowns in that span — and the run game has started the season off at a league-leading pace. The Browns should be able to continue clicking against a Falcons defense that has some promising young players, such as CB A.J. Terrell and S Richie Grant, but hasn't put together a consistent four-quarter performance yet this year.

"They have some good DBs who we will be going up facing against," Cooper said. "(Falcons CB) Casey (Hayward Jr.), who is a veteran and a really instinctive player, he has played a long time in the league. There are not any defensive backs who are going to be playing that long who don't make plays. Definitely somebody I'm excited about going up against. They have a young player (Falcons CB) A.J. (Terrell) who is making a lot of plays. It's just going to be a challenge for us."

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