Keys to Victory: What we're watching vs. the Ravens

  1. At 9,996 consecutive snaps, 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas is poised to crack an almost unimaginable milestone Sunday against the Ravens. "He's amazing. You guys know how I feel about Joe Thomas. What he's done and how he has done it is remarkable to me," head coach Hue Jackson said.

"We're talking about a guy who has never missed a snap. That is kind of unheard of. I see guys come out for things where I go, 'Whoa'. Now, it amazes me if anybody ever comes out of a game having been around Joe Thomas and seeing what he's done. I think our players see that, too. I think a lot of that rubs off in our locker room. You talk about a guy who is an iron man? That's a true iron man. That's truly what it is all about."

Thomas, the most-tenured member of the team's young locker room, spoke of a team-first approach he internalized when he was a kid. "It was just all about being out there to help your teammates and doing everything you can to help the team win," he said. "Fighting through pain and adversity. I never really considered not going out there and giving my all because I always felt that the team and my teammates relied on me to be out there. No matter what the conditions were or what situation the team was in, I always felt that it was my job to be out there."

  1. DeShone Kizer showed promise in his debut against the Steelers, passing for 222 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Jackson wants the rookie quarterback to take another jump this weekend against a tenacious Ravens defense

"This young man is going into uncharted territory for him. Going into Baltimore, the stadium where it will be loud, a good defensive football team, on the road, division game," he said. "There are a lot of subplots here, but the biggest one for him is preparing and being ready for whatever comes at him.

"My job is to create the environment for him along with (quarterbacks coach David) Lee and the rest of our offensive coaches. I think we will do that, and then he has to go do the work. If he is what I think he is, then he will rise up to the challenge and play the way I know he can play. I think his teammates will help him do that."

Kizer became the first rookie quarterback to start a season opener for Cleveland since 2012.

  1. The Browns defense shined in the season opener, holding Pittsburgh to 290 total yards and limiting All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell to 32 yards on 10 carries. Jackson praised new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for re-energizing a group that allowed just one touchdown in four preseason games.

"He's outstanding. That's why we brought him here," he said. "Gregg is very good at what he does. He knows how to get the best out of his players. He knows how to motivate, and guys follow guys who normally do that extremely well."

Williams, who joined Jackson's staff in January, shrugged off the unit's impressive display, including a first-place ranking against the run.

"Rankings are rankings. That's just a number to you guys. It's one week. Let's wait until the end of the season and see how it goes," he said.

"We know that we have got to be very physical and a big, important part of this ball game is playing the run. We have to play that very well. The other thing, too, is that as you continue to do more and more and more of this is that each game takes on a personality of its own and making them run the ball or making them throw the ball sometimes, if that is how we have to do it to win the ballgame, we are going to do it to win the ballgame."

  1. In last weekend's loss to Pittsburgh, the difference might've been a blocked punt that forced the Browns to play from behind for most of the game. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor described the miscue as unacceptable but won't let the group dwell on it.

"It was just a miscommunication there, and like I said, that can't happen," Jackson said Friday. "I put that on myself. I'm responsible for that unit, and I have to do a better job of getting those guys to communicate better and coach them better."

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