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Cleveland Browns embrace the early challenge of the 2014 schedule


Beating Pittsburgh week one would send other NFL teams a message

It's not who you play that determines your NFL record. It's the order in which you play them.

Calling the Cleveland Browns first three weeks of the season a challenge would be a substantial understatement. The team opens the season in Pittsburgh, then hosts New Orleans and Baltimore.

Since 2008, the Steelers, Saints and Ravens have a combined total of one season under .500, and it came when Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the season.

"You want to play some worthy opponents early on," said wide receiver Nate Burleson. "Not only is it a test of where you are at as a team, but if we get those wins, it kind of changes the complexity of our division and how people perceive us.

"We play games for victories but to also send a message. Can you imagine how everyone will look at the Cleveland Browns if we start off the season very strong?" said Burleson.

"It's really going to test us to see where we are at," linebacker Jabaal Sheard said.

"We have to get on that bike and get rolling," said defensive end Billy Winn.

"It's like a track meet. You want to come out of the blocks with a good start," said fullback Chris Ogbonnaya.

"Getting off to a good start, that's with any schedule," said linebacker Craig Robertson.

Other comments from the players:

Toughest matchup personally

Nate Burleson – Baltimore. "They've always been a tough defense even after the absence of Ray Lewis."

Jabaal Sheard – Pittsburgh. "Big Ben is a big guy, hard to take down…but I mean all of them are elite quarterbacks."  

Billy Winn – Carolina. "Probably Cam Newton towards the end of the season. Hopefully he's healthy and we get a chance to play against him and show what we are able to do."

Chris Ogbonnaya – The whole AFC North. "They're all consistently good on defense."

Craig Robertson – New Orleans. "Drew Brees. He's just a pure passer. He always controls his offense. That will be a week we have to make sure we have our calls and everything tight."

Jordan Cameron – Everyone. "In the NFL every guy is an elite athlete and the best at what they do. Every week is going to be a battle."

Favorite road city

Nate Burleson – Atlanta. "I've played very well there. And it's a fun city."

Jabaal Sheard – Atlanta. "The dome there, I heard the crowd is crazy. I'm really looking forward to that game. It will be good to be down south with some warm weather."

Billy Winn – Atlanta. "I've never been there. I'm excited to go down there."

Chris Ogbonnaya – Atlanta. "One of my good friends plays for the Falcons in Stephen Jackson."

Craig Robertson – None. "Really all of them are the same, I just sleep in the hotel."

Jordan Cameron – None. "I like playing indoors when it's cold."

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