The Browns might be brimming with rookies, but they won't lean on that as an excuse as they search for their first win this season.
"There are no more young guys. We have a lot of rookies playing out there, but everybody has to make plays," cornerback Joe Haden said last weekend after a loss to the Jets.
"Especially the veterans, we have to be able to stand up in the second half and make the plays. We have to show the guys what it takes to win. It's on us, but at the same time, everyone has to grow up."
And with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town, head coach Hue Jackson echoed a similar sentiment this week when asked whether there's a correlation between a youthful roster and some of its on-field struggles.
"I don't know. I don't want to make it about that. They are pro NFL players now, but are they young? Yeah. Some of the plays that are missed are by some of our young guys, but at the same time, they are out there playing," Jackson said. "We feel good about them and that's who's out there playing so they have to make those plays when they present themselves."
Of course, the Browns have welcomed significant production from a handful of first-year players on both sides of the ball:
— Quarterback Cody Kessler has started five games — and passed for almost 1,000 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception — and finds himself in the mix for his sixth nod this weekend.
— Wide receiver and first-round draft pick Corey Coleman is set to return to the lineup after missing the past five weeks with a broken hand.
— Offensive lineman Spencer Drango has found himself competing for a starting job
— Linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah and defensive Carl Nassib have established themselves as emerging playmakers.
— Defensive backs Tracy Howard and Derrick Kindred receive a plurality of the snaps at safety.
But for Cleveland to notch its first victory of the season, it'll take an all-hands-on-deck effort against Dallas.
"I think it is just all of us, and especially the vets, have to really step up in the second half in those moments and pull it along because when you are a young football team, those are some of the things that happen to young football teams is you can get a lead but you don't necessarily are able to hold onto it," veteran quarterback Josh McCown said Wednesday.
"It's on us as veterans to continue to pull those guys along. It really is five or six plays every game, and it is, 'What are we doing to make those plays and to change the outcome of the game?' Some of the things that build into that, like I said earlier, when you come to work and you battle through some of the stuff and it is adversity, that is the kind of toughness that builds in you that eventually is the reason why you win some of those games because you have that toughness that carries you through the whole four quarters."
Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor on Thursday added: "We're young — who cares? They've got to grow up and play. This is the NFL and this game has almost been taken from me, it can be taken from anybody.
"It doesn't matter that they're young, let's go play," he continued.
"These next eight games, let's put it together. This youth stuff is over now. They know that."