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Stefanski: Browns have to be weatherproof and 'ready to go' vs. Lions

The Browns are prepared for all of the factors that play into wet gameday conditions

Coach Kevin Stefanski used just about every adjective possible for inclement weather when he discussed the forecast for FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday against Detroit.

"It's going to be wet, it's going to be muddy, it's going to be ugly, it's going to be sloppy and all of those things," he said. "That's what the game is going to be. We understand that, and we have to be ready to go."

He likely won't be wrong. The Weather Channel is predicting an 80 percent chance of rain and 10-15 mph winds throughout the day that'll make the 45 degree conditions feel a bit chillier. It's the kind of weather the Browns are used to playing in this time of year, and they don't have to think too far back to the last time those conditions were present on gameday in Cleveland. 

The Browns played three straight games in less-than-ideal weather in 2020 from Weeks 8-11 (Cleveland had its bye week in Week 9) and won two of them. Rain and high winds — and occasional sleet or snow in Weeks 8 and 10 — were a factor in each of them.

Stefanski said the Browns haven't forgotten about the lessons learned from that rare, weird period of the season.

"I think we understand that ball security is a premium," Stefanski said. "All the guys that touch it — center, quarterback, exchange, the exchange between the quarterback and the running backs and catching the ball in adverse conditions — are all things that you have to prepare for, and you have to work at those during this week."

The Browns view bad weather as an advantage when they're at home, and that especially holds true when the matchup is against a team that usually plays in a dome. The Lions don't have to worry about bad weather at Ford Field, but they did play in wet conditions last week in their tie against Pittsburgh.

"It's Cleveland," defensive end Myles Garrett said. "It's cold and it rains almost every other day."

Garrett did admit, however, that the three-game stretch of bad weather last season was special, and not in a good way.

"That was a bit annoying," he said with a smile.

Hopefully another stretch isn't in store for the next batch of Browns home games — they have three of them in their next four weeks — but Cleveland will always be ready for bad weather, and it'll likely receive its first taste of that this season on Sunday.

Browns ready for Boyle

The Browns defense is planning to spend the next 48 hours studying up on Tim Boyle, who likely will serve as the Lions' starting quarterback. Jared Goff, their usual starter, is dealing with an oblique injury and is listed as doubtful.

Boyle, a four-year veteran, will make his first career start and first regular season appearance with the Lions. He was an undrafted free agent after splitting his college years at UConn and Eastern Kentucky, where he threw a combined 12 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Boyle was with the Packers from 2018-2020 and completed three of four career pass attempts for 15 yards.

The Browns are ready for Boyle, but it's a safe bet to believe the Lions will utilize their run game, which has been the strength of their offense no matter who's at quarterback this season. Last week was a prime example: The Lions rushed for 229 yards against the Steelers.

"They're not going to try and put the game in his hands," Garrett said. "They're going to try to run the ball. We've got to force their hand in that where if they can't run the ball, he's got to make plays."

Slot corner plans

The Browns have continued to receive good news on CB Troy Hill, who suffered a neck sprain and left the game on a stretcher last week after attempting a tackle in the fourth quarter.

Cleveland still will be without Hill this week, which has left a hole at the slot position. Stefanski said the Browns are still working through plans on who will take the role Sunday. CBs Greg Newsome II and Greedy Williams and S MJ Stewart Jr., who spent most of his four-year career as a cornerback, are among the secondary options available.

"We will work through that," Stefanski said. "There are a couple of options, but we will work through."

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