Browns Injury Report
- Phil Taylor is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery following the Oct. 5 win against the Titans. Because of the short time span for next week's Thursday Night game against the Cincinnati Bengals, it's looking more realistic for Taylor to return Nov. 16 against the Houston Texans.
- Coach Mike Pettine did have some positive news to report: Billy Winn (quad) is on pace to return this week and likely enter the starting lineup alongside Desmond Bryant and Ahtyba Rubin.
- "I feel great and I'm 100 percent," said Winn.
- The Browns need Winn to come in and play with a sense of urgency, something he showed all throughout OTAs, training camp and the preseason. Before injuries slowed him down, many, including myself, predicted Winn as the Browns' breakout player on defense. With Armonty Bryant out of the season, Cleveland's defensive line needs a pass rusher like Winn to step up.
- K'Waun Williams (neck stinger) will practice fully this week. Pettine indicated the team is more than content with their situation at cornerback, shuffling both Williams and fellow rookie Justin Gilbert into nickel packages.
- Tight end Jordan Cameron is still going through concussion protocol and missed practice on Wednesday. His status for Sunday is up in the air. We'll have much more on his backups Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge in upcoming articles.
- Jim Leonhard (ankle), Rodney Smith (hamstring) and Joe Thomas (rest) were also limited in practice.
Donte Whitner: Our Home field advantage is real
- Whitner says it's no coincidence the Browns are 3-1 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Whitner also explained it has nothing to do with the team – but the Dawg Pound's growing reputation around the league.
- "On third-down, teams are behind the sticks, quarterbacks are trying to change plays, you get false starts – that's what you need," said Whitner. "That's what home field advantage does for you. It allows guys to feed off the energy of the crowd."
- Whitner knows it's his defense that benefits the most from the Dawg Pound. When Whitner rocked Darren McFadden for a forced fumble, he could nearly feel the ground shake, it was that loud.
- A football intellect, Whitner thinks he's defined the strategy that helps propel the Browns to victories: the defensive backfield has to be in position to make plays. He's right. When the secondary was problematic in early September against the Steelers and Ravens, it cost Cleveland wins. And when the Browns have picked off passes the second time around against Roethlisberger and jarred the ball loose from Oakland, notches were tallied in the win column.
- "When we play well, we win the football game," said Whitner. "We understand it has a direct correlation between the defensive backs playing well and winning the game. We have to go out there and be on our P's and Q's at all times."
Add them to the list: Buccaneers offer more praise to Brian Hoyer
- Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith made a good point about Brian Hoyer that not many other coaches have said: "He has good mobility in the pocket," said Smith, in part.
- A reason the Browns have only given up 10 sacks in seven games is exactly this reason. By no means is Hoyer fast, or even a top 10 athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. One of Hoyer's strengths has been escaping pressure, whether it be out on a bootleg or sidestepping blitzers.
- Even Tampa Bay wide receiver, Mike Evans, one of Johnny Manziel's best friends and teammates at Texas A&M has also turned the corner on Hoyer. For obvious reasons, Evans told the local Cleveland media he thought Manziel should win the starting job when reporters talked to him during the rookie symposium in June.
- "They're winning now. I can't talk too bad about that," Evans said.