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Keys to Victory

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

*1. Offensive improvement *

After a slow start and uneven display in the season opener, the Browns expect their offense to take a major step forward this weekend against the Saints in New Orleans. Cleveland's retooled unit — one that includes starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor and a mixture of new and familiar faces — had just 98 yards at halftime before coming alive in the fourth quarter. "I think our guys, after the first week playing against a really good opponent, understand the next level we have to push it to to have the success we want," head coach Hue Jackson said. 

"Obviously, we were able to score 21 points with the help of our team. At the same time, we want to make sure they are carrying their weight, too. The guys have worked hard this week. The communication has been good. The execution has been better. We need to continue to do those things."

*2. Can Myles Garrett repeat? *

Myles Garrett delivered a dominating performance and served as something of a catalyst for Cleveland's comeback last weekend. That's what the Browns expect the former first overall NFL Draft pick to do each and every week. "Again and again and again," Jackson said, adding the second-year defensive end has a desire to be great. 

"That's what he wants to be. I think that's who Myles Garrett is. When we drafted him, I knew that about him. That he wants to be one of the best to ever play, and that is just what his motivation is." he continued. "He does it on the practice field every day, and we expect him to do it every week in every game. I think now that his teammates have seen it, they expect it, too. That is other part of the peer pressure from your teammates saying, 'Hey look, we need this from you. To win this game, this is how you have to play for us.' That goes a long ways."

Garrett, limited most of his rookie year by a nagging ankle injury, finished with two sacks, two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup while playing 84 of 84 defensive snaps against the Steelers. 

3. Pair of Buckeyes duel

Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward will find himself lining up against a former college teammate in Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas. The pair were teammates at Ohio State in 2015 — Ward then a wide-eyed freshman and Thomas a fourth-year junior. 

Ward, making his regular-season debut last week, picked off Ben Roethlisberger twice and added another three pass breakups. The fourth overall pick showed why Cleveland thinks he'll be a cornerstone for years to come. 

"It was nice to see him make plays, and it was also a big smile to my face of how comfortable he felt playing in the game," defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. "He has some things he has to continue to improve on. Some things he has not been asked to do before, because the college game is a different kind of a game than we play at this level. But making plays at the ball on the ball was very good. "

4. Who steps up for Emmanuel Ogbah?

Cleveland will be without Garrett's partner in crime in defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who was ruled out with an ankle injury. Ogbah, the third-year player and former second-round pick, sustained the injury in the first quarter of Sunday's game and was limited the rest of the contest, playing just 27 snaps. To fill the void, the Browns will lean on Chris Smith and Anthony Zettel. Cleveland signed Smith in free agency and claimed Zettel, a former starter for the Lions, off waivers last week. As for Ogbah, the Browns hope to get him back sooner than later.

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