The biggest challenge for defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is to patch up the Browns' dismal run defense. It's become even more difficult to do so because Cleveland is trying to patch up holes in the starting lineup as well.
Only two starters in the Browns' front seven are healthy and expected to play in Thursday's preseason game against the Packers. Outside linebacker Chris Gocong is out for the season with an Achilles injury, and defensive tackle Phil Taylor is expected to miss at least the first six games of the season after having surgery on a torn pectoral muscle. The others who will likely be sidelined Thursday are: outside linebacker Scott Fujita (left leg), middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (shoulder) and defensive end Frostee Rucker (right knee).
The depleted Browns defense gave up 115 yards rushing in the first half at Detroit a week ago. The Browns showed no containment on outside runs and got gashed on runs up the middle.
This was reminiscent of last season, when teams averaged 147.4 yards on the ground per game against Cleveland. Only St. Louis and Tampa Bay had worse run defenses in 2011.
“I know we are a better defense, a deeper defense, and I believe we are a tougher defense than we were a year ago," Jauron said. "How that translates statistically, I don’t have a clue.”