CLEVELAND — For the first time in a month, the Browns' defense should be at full strength for a game at Detroit this weekend.
Cleveland expects rookie defensive end Myles Garrett (concussion), defensive backs Jason McCourty (ankle), Jabrill Peppers (toe) and Briean Boddy-Calhoun (hamstring) to play Sunday against the Lions.
"I'm looking forward to a healthy defensive football team to go over there and really play well," defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said.
It comes at a good time, as the winless Browns will face quarterback Matthew Stafford and one of the NFL's best passing teams. With a bye week to recover and refocus, the Browns only had one player — rookie defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi (groin) — listed on Friday's final injury report.
"It always feels good when you have all of your brothers back," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "Guys have been flying around this whole week."
Peppers and McCourty haven't played since a loss at Houston while Garrett, who's played three games because of injuries, missed a trip to London and game against the Vikings. Boddy-Calhoun suffered his injury in that game against Minnesota.
— The Browns used the bye week to refocus, recharge and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. One of Cleveland's biggest areas of improvement has been its run defense, which ranks fourth in the NFL with an average of 84.3 yards allowed. "I have been places where we haven't been as dominant on the run. We're pretty dominant," Williams said.
On the flip side, the Browns have struggled with allowing passing touchdowns in the red zone. "With a young team and with a couple of brand new guys driving the car, I think we have gotten better and better and better as the year has gone on about it," Williams said, "but we have to do a better job of one, not letting them get down there and two, when they are down there in the tight little red zone, make them kick field goals. That has to be a thing."
— Isaiah Crowell posted his best statistical game of the season, totaling 118 yards rushing and receiving against the Vikings two weeks ago in London. "he came alive with the ball in his hand, and obviously, he made the explosive run their early in the first quarter the first drive," running backs coach and run game coordinator Kirby Wilson said.
Crowell, who's averaging 3.4 yards a carry, scored on a 26-yard touchdown on the first offensive drive of the game. Wilson said Cleveland needs more of that. "He made a defender miss, and he had an explosive run. Those are the things you need out of your best players are to make plays," Wilson said. "Even when things aren't perfect, you have to make plays, and when you do that, you are going to have some success and you are going to have some explosive runs."
— The bye week might have done Zane Gonzalez some good, as the rookie kicker hopes to bounce back from a bumpy first half of the season. Gonzalez is 7-of-11 on field goals through eight games and was 1-of-2 against the Vikings most recently. "He got away for the bye week, and I think that is good. I think there is a time when a guy gets out of college, prepares for the combine, wins a kicking job and then he gets into the stressors of the season, sometimes he just needs to get away," special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said. "He knows he needs to perform better, and we expect him to perform better."