Keys to Victory: What we're watching against the Bengals

The Browns travel to Cincinnati this weekend for their fifth road game in seven weeks. Here are four things we're watching against the Bengals. [



Next man up

With uncertainty still surrounding whether wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (hamstring) and cornerback Joe Haden (groin) will play Sunday, head coach Hue Jackson called for the Browns to have a "next man up" approach to this weekend.

"We find a way. You have to find a way. That is what it comes down to," Jackson said.

Pryor, who's emerged as Cleveland's top receiver, is listed as questionable while Haden is doubtful to play against the Bengals.

Without Haden, who missed last week's game against Tennessee, the Browns will have to figure out a way to hold Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green in check.

"We have to get it done," Jackson said. "That's part of it."

No excuses

After leading the league in rushing, the Browns have struggled to run the ball in back-to-back weeks. The hope, of course, is that part of their offense gets back on track in Cincinnati.

"I'm not going to make excuses. We can do better than what we did. We have to get our run game reestablished somehow, someway," Jackson said.

"It has been off track the last two weeks and the teams that have played us have done a decent job. We are stumbling a little bit in that area. As I said after the game, that is an area that I have to get fixed, and I will. I'm confident in that."

Protecting Kessler

Against the Titans last week, Cody Kessler was sacked six times and hurried another 11 tries. The rookie quarterback stood in the pocket, however, and passed for a career-high 336 yards and two touchdowns.

In Cincinnati, the Browns will face a similar challenge against a Bengals front that includes Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.

"Those guys are veteran players that have had a ton of production over the course of their careers," associated head coach-offense Pep Hamilton said.

"We will be faced with a challenge of trying to contain those guys, but our guys, they work hard all week long and we have to do a great job of forcing those guys to defend both the run and the pass. I think that plays a big part in being able to somewhat contain a defensive front like the Bengals front."

Hue returns to Cincinnati

Aside from the Xs and Os, Sunday marks Jackson's first trip back to Cincinnati, where he spent the past four seasons as an assistant under head coach Marvin Lewis.

Jackson earlier this week spoke of warm feelings for Lewis and the Bengals, but made it clear those sentiments won't matter much this weekend.

"It is called a football game. We are 0-6. Trust me, I'm trying to win a game," Jackson said.

"This is not about personal friendships, relationships or any of that. This is about trying to win a football game. We are trying to be the best we can be. Our guys are working their tails off to get prepared for a big game this week. This weekend won't be about Marvin and Hue Jackson. It will be about our football teams more so than anything."​

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