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

The Browns kick off the 2017 season by hosting the Steelers in Sunday's season opener.

 Here are four things we're watching this weekend:

1. DeShone's debut:For the first time since 2012, the Browns will have a rookie quarterback start the season with DeShone Kizer under center. And of course, the former Notre Dame star and second-round pick will do so against a talented Steelers defense.

"I definitely have a lot of respect for this game. This rivalry within our division and our conference is one that really shows you what Northern, Midwest football is," said Kizer, a Toledo native who looked up to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger growing up.

"It's hard nose. It's tough. The fan bases are the same way. The cities are the same way. We all kind of grew up the same way in the sense that it's blue collar. It's as blue collar as it gets, so now to be a part of this and to obviously represent Cleveland and this rivalry, I am looking forward to going out there and representing the city and everything that comes along with this."

Head coach Hue Jackson said he expected the 21-year-old to rise to the challenge.

"It'll be a tremendous environment. I know our fans are excited about coming to see our team play and our opponent that we are playing," he said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be electric for him. He's going to have to take it all in, but play within our system, play within himself and go have a good game."

2. Who steps up? With Myles Garrett out indefinitely with an ankle sprain, the Browns say they're taking a next-man-up approach until the rookie defensive end and first overall pick returns to the field. "We are very much served with a philosophy in our playbook of next man up," defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. "As a coaching staff, when we manage personnel, it is about the next man up. The next man up may do something better than the guy he just replaced but not as good as the guy he just replaced."

Cleveland's defense shined over the past month, helping lift the Browns to their first undefeated mark in the preseason in 31 years.

3. The 'Killer Bs:' If Cleveland is to come out of Sunday's game with a win, they'll have to slow down a trio of Pro Bowl playmakers in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger is 20-2 against the Browns while Brown and Bell have combined for 905 yards in their past three games against Cleveland.

Williams stressed the Browns must find a way to fluster the big-bodied and strong-armed Roethlisberger

"He's different than almost everybody else in the league because of his power in the pocket," he said. "A lot of quarterbacks go down just because they know they are getting ready to go down. A lot of guys will go ahead and take the dive just to get away from the contact. He almost relishes the contact. He breaks tackle in the pocket. He extends plays. When he extends the play, he is the most dangerous because now he is doing things that the timing of the scheme or the timing of the play from my part is off-kilter."

4. Counting on Corey:In a young and largely unproven receivers room, Jackson said the Browns are counting on second-year wide receiver and 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman to have a big afternoon Sunday.

"He has to go out and play his tail off for us," he said. "He will show up on Sunday and play good. I believe that. He is poised for a big game."

Coleman, who caught four passes for 66 yards in the team's dress rehearsal game against Tampa Bay, missed six games as a rookie with a broken hand. He finished with 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns.

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