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Four Downs: Karlos Dansby 1 INT away from landmark milestone


1. Dansby one INT away from landmark milestone

Karlos Dansby prides himself on his longevity and adaptability. At 34, the Browns veteran inside linebacker has seen the game change, and he's changed along with it.

That he's one interception away from joining the super-exclusive 40-20 club is, perhaps, the biggest indication of it.

After picking off Matt Schaub and returning it for his second touchdown of the season Monday, Dansby moved one pick closer to 20 career interceptions. He cleared 40 career sacks last season. Only four other players -- Ray Lewis, Seth Joyner, Wilber Marshall and Brian Urlacher -- have finished their NFL careers with at least 20 interceptions and 40 sacks.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said he doesn't need a specific statistic to validate Dansby's 12 years and counting career, but this one clearly means something significant.

"It's a tribute to how long he's been able to stay in the league and be healthy and play at a high level," Pettine said. "Sacks and interceptions aren't easy things to come by, especially the position that he's played. You're not in a scheme where you're blitzing the linebacker a lot to get a lot of those. He's got good ball skills, has a good feel for the pass game. I just think it's a tribute to a lot of those factors that make Karlos what he is."

For Dansby, the interceptions have been easier to come by than sacks in recent years. He has more interceptions (four) than sacks (three) in his two years with the Browns and eight interceptions to 9.5 sacks in his previous three seasons.

In his first three NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Dansby racked up four interceptions and 17 sacks.

Dansby's performance, like every member of the Browns defense in 2015, has been up and down. The Browns rank 31st in the NFL in run defense, and that's a mark shared by all 11 players on the field. But Dansby, who rarely misses a snap, has delivered big plays when the Browns have needed them most with his "exceptional" pass coverage.

"He's one of our leaders," defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said. "Karlos and (Donte) Whitner are our two leaders on defense. He's done a great job of keeping everybody positive, keeping everybody going, talking to the guys and just doing his job."


2. Bounce-back opportunity for Desir?

A healthy scratch Monday against the Ravens, second-year cornerback Pierre Desir could play a much more significant role Sunday against the Bengals.

Desir was inactive while Justin Gilbert started at cornerback Monday. Gilbert went down with an injury during the second half and was spelled by a combination of K'Waun Williams, who shifted over from nickel back, and rookie Charles Gaines.

Desir started against the Steelers in mid-November and has regularly been first off the bench for Joe Haden, who has missed more than half of the season because of injuries. It's been "a learning experience," Pettine said.

"We can't ask for somebody to give more than what we have, and Pierre is a guy, he gives that to us when he's out there," Pettine said. "I know he has had some troubles this year, and as a corner, that's hard because when your confidence gets shook a little bit that's hard to come back from. That's something as a young corner that he has to use as a learning experience."


3. He said it

Haden is officially out Sunday, meaning he won't get a shot at matching up against Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green in 2015. Haden, who was sidelined with a concussion when the teams met Nov. 5, got the better of Green in last year's Browns rout at Cincinnati and has kept him relatively contained in other matchups.

The Browns didn't divulge their defensive game plan for Green and the other Bengal wide receivers, but veteran Tramon Williams made one point very clear.

"I am going to see a lot of A.J. I don't know how much, but I will see a lot of him," Williams said.


4. Stat to know

From Week 2 to Week 6, Cincinnati surrendered at least 19 points in all of its games. It went 5-0 during the stretch. From Week 8 to Week 12, the Bengals held their opponent to 10 points or fewer in four of the five games. They went 3-2.

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