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Keys to Victory: What we’re watching against the Packers

  1. While the story in Berea the past few days has centered on the hiring of new general manager John Dorsey (and subsequent dismissal of Sashi Brown), the Browns say it won’t have an effect on their game against Green Bay on Sunday.

“For us in the locker room, you’re not around (the front office) guys on a daily basis so your day to day of coming in, meetings, practice and film, none of those things change,” defensive back Jason McCourty said Thursday. “Today was a normal Thursday for us, obviously other than hearing somebody in the organization was let go. For our day to day, everything will remain the same. I think guys just have to continue their same practice routine and preparation routine to get ready for the game.”

The Browns formally hired Dorsey late Thursday. He’ll replace Brown, who had been in charge of Cleveland’s personnel department since January 2016.

  1. While the Browns won’t face Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they made clear they still have a tough challenge ahead of them in search of their first win of the season. “When you run against a different quarterback other than Aaron Rodgers, playing Green Bay’s definitely a load off your shoulder, but you have to still respect the player that's playing on Sunday,” linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “We’ll game-plan him well, and we will be ready to play him.”

In Rodgers’ absence, the Packers have leaned on third-year quarterback Brett Hundley and a run game that’s averaging 122 yards over the past six weeks. Hundley, who has guided the Packers to a 2-4 record in Rodgers’ absence (including an overtime win last weekend against the Buccaneers), has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,269 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“We have to do everything that we can to stop the run and play our gaps better," Jackson said, "do those things and see if we can get the young quarterback to have to throw the football.”

  1. The Browns could be without several defensive starters, including rookie safety Jabrill Peppers, who was listed as doubtful on Friday’s final injury report. Defensive lineman Danny Shelton (ribs), cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee) and tight end Seth DeValve (hip) are also listed as questionable. Jackson said he feels good about DeValve — who suffered his injury late in Thursday’s practice — playing this weekend. “I’ll know more about the other guys when I walk out of here,” he said.
  1. Dorsey, who was Green Bay’s director of scouting from 2000-2011, played a significant role in drafting many of the Packers players the Browns will face off against this weekend. Dorsey, who also played for the Packers from 1984-89, had a role in selecting Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and former stars in wide receiver Greg Jennings and defensive lineman B.J. Raji. He has no trouble, however, rooting against his former team.

“I’m the eternal optimist. I believe there’s good in everybody. I believe there is good in every organization,” he said. “I believe that the Cleveland Browns – you know what? This weekend, they’re going to win. I’m the eternal optimist. That’s who I am.”

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