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Locker Room Report: Browns need to start fast and generate more pass rush


Browns preparations for Jaguars different than most weeks

  • Coach Mike Pettine was clear in his opening statement -- the Browns need to start faster on the road. In two combined games at Pittsburgh and Tennessee, the Browns have been outscored 55-13 in the first half. The poor start cost them the Week 1 game against the Steelers and it nearly did them in again two weeks ago against the Titans. The Browns can't keep digging themselves into a hole, and it will be vital to come storming out of the gates.
  • "You can't build sustained success starting that way and consistently think that you can play your way out of it," said Pettine. "That will be something that we'll look to correct.
  • Jacksonville may have an 0-6 record, but like we detailed in our scouting report, they are no slouch of a team under head coach Gus Bradley. The defensive scheme is sound – Jacksonville is tied for second in the NFL with 19 sacks, with many unacquainted names. Gigantic and talented rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has flashed "Baby Ben" abilities, an ode to Ben Roethlisberger. Receivers Cecil Shorts, a Collinwood High grad who went to college at Mount Union, and Allen Robinson have the skill sets to give the Cleveland secondary some difficulties.
  • "This is a competitive, prideful, hungry team that we're playing down at their place," said Pettine. "We know that we're not in a situation where we can just go down there and put forth an average effort and come away successful. We're going to get their best shot."  
  • Temperatures for the Browns' game on Sunday are set for a balmy 80 degrees. Pettine said the team has distributed a "hydration protocol" for players to start drinking more fluids on a daily basis to ready for the warm weather.  It's been helpful for Pettine to converse with Cleveland's head trainer, Joe Sheehan, who used to work for the Jaguars. The Browns are also planning on wearing white jerseys and white pants to adjust to the heat.

Terrance West responds well to his inactive status

  • Pettine and West met eye-to-eye about why West was made inactive for last week's game against the Steelers. It was surprising news to many who follow the Browns, because West rushed for 100 yards against Pittsburgh in his first-ever NFL game.
  • West said he was obviously disappointed by not being on the field, as any competitor would be, but there were no signs of discouragement from him on Wednesday. In fact, he was cheerful.
  • "How about the Browns?" said West. "We came up with a big win. Crowell and Tate did a great job on the ground…I just look at the positives. We won. It was a big win for the organization…I can go out there and work hard and run the ball when given the opportunity."
  • West has 44 carries for 235 yards (4.4 average) and 2 touchdowns so far in 2014. He's talented enough, especially as a receiver in the open field, where the coaching staff will find ways to get him involved.

Browns still looking to generate more pass rush

  • With 10 sacks on the year, the Browns rank 19th in the NFL. That's not terrible but it's not a number to be proud of, either. In terms of more advanced pass rushing numbers, ranks the Browns 30th in the NFL.
  • Pettine says you can't solely judge the pass rush based on numbers. Last week against Pittsburgh was a solid improvement for the players who chase after the quarterback.
  • "It's something we feel we can improve on," said Pettine. "I felt we did a good job. We got to (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) a couple times, but I also think we affected him more than a few, as well. We hit him, and I think those hits are cumulative over the course of a game. When you hit a quarterback over three quarters and, all of a sudden, in that fourth quarter they're chasing ghosts or feeling ghosts a little bit."
  • It will help to get a more healthy Paul Kruger back this week. The 28-year-old has easily been Cleveland's most effective pass rusher and he told he was fighting through severe pain all game long against the Steelers.

Wednesday's Injury report

  • The Browns had 10 players limited in practice.Tashaun Gipson (thigh, did not practice), Paul Kruger (back, limited), Ahtyba Rubin (ankle, limited), Billy Winn (quad, did not practice), K'Waun Williams (concussion, did not practice), Nick McDonald (wrist, limited), Rodney Smith (hamstring, did not practice), Alex Mack (leg, did not practice), Phil Taylor (knee, did not practice) and Joe Thomas (rest, did not practice).
  • Pettine did indicate the team expects to have Rubin back against the Jaguars, but general manager Ray Farmer did add four-year veteran Sione Fua to the active roster as insurance. Read more about Fua here.
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