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Need to Know: Browns defense hopes to end turnover drought

Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams won’t sugarcoat it: his defense needs to create more turnovers.

That remains a point of emphasis as Cleveland searches for its first win of the season this weekend in Chicago.

“We've had some opportunities and that’s one of the things that’s probably been one of the most frustrating things for us this year,” Williams said Friday. “This team has really worked hard at doing that and it’s something that we have to do better.”

While the Browns’ defense — particularly against the run — has been a bright spot for the team, they rank last in the league with 11 takeaways and haven’t had one since Week 11. Cleveland hopes to change that Sunday against a Bears team that’s ranked sixth in giveaways.

“We have to take the ball away better. Even the earlier times in the year when we did do that, it was not enough because we have to balance whatever the takeaway, turnover ratio we have. We have to do that,” Williams said. “We have to do a better job of that. We are not good enough at doing that yet.”

— For the second straight week, the Browns could be without a pair of defensive backs as Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Jackson said he expects the team to have at least one of those players ready to go this weekend. Boddy-Calhoun was inactive for last week’s game against Baltimore while Taylor played five special teams snaps.

— Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor likened rookie running back and returner Tarik Cohen to former Eagles standout Darren Sproles. “He reminds me, probably another big statement, but of a young Sproles,” he said. “Obviously, he’s not a tall guy, but he’s built well – big legs and has great balance and vision and is tough to bring down … This guy has our attention.” Cohen averages 22 yards a return has totaled 14 20-plus yard returns. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate earlier this week.

— Browns run game coordinator Kirby Wilson described left guard Joel Bitonio, who was named a Pro Bowl alternate earlier this week, as “a bright light for us all season long because he’s so positive.”

“He works extremely hard, as do the rest of the guys up front, but he’s been a leader, especially since Joe (Thomas) went down he has kind of taken that role of being the next guy up. He is always encouraging guys, and he is never negative about anything.”

Bitonio, who missed most of last year with a foot injury, has started all 14 games this season. “Whether we lose a yard or gain a yard, he’s the same. That’s what you appreciate by him as a professional is that he is the same and he works really, really hard,” Wilson said. “I’m excited for him. I’m happy for him. I think this is just the beginning for Joel and his success in the future.”​

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