The Browns defensive backs displayed an impressive performance during their Week 1 matchup against the Bengals, allowing no big plays and only 14 catches. Their success caught the attention of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin – who the Browns will see in Week 2 for Monday Night Football at Acrisure Stadium.
"To be blunt, I thought the corners won the game for them last week," Tomlin said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week. "Their ability to stand on the line of scrimmage and challenge the Cincinnati Bengals, I thought, was really impressive."
The Browns defense shut down the Bengals' passing game in Week 1, limiting WR Ja'Marr Chase to five receptions –with the longest reception of 12 yards – and holding WR Tee Higgins without a catch despite eight targets. The defensive backs effectively contested throws and showed great pursuit to the ball despite the box score lacking interceptions and only four pass breakups.
They will have to play even better on Monday as the Browns face a Steelers team they haven't beaten in Pittsburgh in the regular season since 2003.
WR Diontae Johnson will be out for Monday's game, but they still have WR George Pickens, who is a physical wideout and can make spectacular catches. Pickens had a big game against the Browns on Jan. 8. when he caught three passes for 72 yards and scored a touchdown.
"It's going to be a good challenge," S Grant Delpit said. "He's going to catch the ball. He got some raw talent, but we got going there the same mentality that we always have. We try to be the best in the world, man, and Steelers just next in our way, to be honest. So, we're going there with that same mentality, take care of business and get out of there."
DC Jim Schwartz is confident in the defensive backs' ability to stop the second-year pro. Schwartz utilizes multiple players and defensive looks to keep the opposing offense guessing. If the Browns replicate last week's performance, they'll be confident on the outside.
"I think our guys showed the confidence that they can play with on the outside part of the field against some pretty tough characters in Higgins and Chase," Schwartz said. "Every week it's a new challenge. That guy (Pickens) made some insane catches and he's strong. He's got a good frame. That's going to be a great matchup for the fans to watch on Monday night."
CB Martin Emerson Jr. believes that he, Denzel Ward, and Greg Newsome II form the best cornerback trio in the league. On Friday, Ward agreed with Emerson's claim and expressed his excitement to showcase their skills on the biggest stage this Monday, especially against someone like Pickens.
"We got to go out there every day, every game and show that," Ward said. "We show that now in practice, and like I said, go out there in the game and do that. We got to back up. We can't just say that, but we got to go back it up.