AFC North: Ahtyba Rubin

The most expensive Browns in 2014

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
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The release of D'Qwell Jackson leads a wandering mind to wonder: What players will cost the Cleveland Browns the most money this season?

[+] EnlargeJoe Thomas
AP Photo/David RichardJoe Thomas' $10.9 million base salary is the highest among offensive linemen in the league.
Here they are, in terms of their cash cost, which equals base salary plus any bonuses.
A few thoughts:

Yes, Paul Kruger is indeed the second-highest paid player on the team.

Kruger’s base salary is the fourth highest among linebackers in the league, behind only St. Louis’ James Laurinaitis ($10 million), Jacksonville’s Paul Posluszny ($7.45 million) and Pittsburgh’s LaMarr Woodley ($8 million).

Yes, Campbell ranks fifth on the Browns. And Bess sixth.

Sigh.

It will be shocking if either Campbell or Bess is with the team in 2014.

Four of the top seven highest paid were signed in the Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi era: Kruger, Bess, Campbell and Bryant.

Greco’s $1.7 million roster bonus is due the fifth day of the league year, which would be March 16.

Thomas has the highest base salary ($10.9 million) among the league’s offensive linemen, and his cash cost for 2014 ranks second among linemen to Philadelphia’s Jason Peters’ $12 million. The contract extension Thomas signed in 2011 included $29.5 million in guaranteed money.

ProFootballTalk.com reported that Rubin could be on the cut list due to his salary. We’ll see.

Here are the 10 most expensive Browns as they fall under the salary cap, with prorated signing bonuses included in the calculations:

  • Thomas, $12.3 million
  • Haden, $8.9 million
  • Kruger, $8.2 million
  • Rubin, $8.175 million
  • Bryant, $4 million
  • LB Barkevious Mingo, $3.715 million
  • Taylor, $2.575 million
  • Grego, $2.43 million
  • QB Brandon Weeden, $2.204 million
  • Campbell, $3.25 million
There were some oddities in the way the Cleveland Browns defended the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton changed things, often using two linemen and two outside linebackers to provide pressure. He rarely called blitzes; as a result the Browns rarely got pressure.

It’s the third time season Horton dialed back the aggressiveness -- the same happened against the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.

The common denominators?

Matt Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger -- the guys at quarterback.

When the Browns have faced an experienced and talented quarterback, they dial back the pressure. There’s two ways to look at this of course. Pressuring an experienced guy only gives that guy more room to throw. The flip side is pressuring him disrupts the passing game, which is what Horton and the Browns tried to do with the less talented guys.

Defensive lineman Desmond Bryant said after the game the Browns did not blitz as much, and added: “Ray makes the calls and I do my job.”

The Browns' thinking revolved around the Steelers getting rid of the ball quickly. Roethlisberger worked a lot from the shotgun, threw several quick screens to receivers and held the ball less than he got rid of it.

That puts the onus on the secondary and linebackers to disrupt routes, and to make tackles to prevent yards after catch.

Neither happened Sunday, at least not well.

The end result of using two down linemen meant somebody would not have as much playing time. That fell on Phil Taylor, who was on the field for just 25 of the 69 defensive snaps. The majority of the play went to Bryant (44 plays) and Ahtyba Rubin (39 plays). Taylor’s plays were the third highest among linemen.

Which, combined with the bad losses the past two weeks, may have contributed to Taylor’s silence the past two days.

Sunday he said he was “not answering any questions” before he left the locker room.

Monday, Taylor walked to his locker, grabbed some items and strolled right past a waiting group of reporters.

It should be said out of fairness to Taylor that he’s been one of the more cooperative and accessible players for the Browns this season.

“I’m sure,” said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, “a lot of guys are frustrated.”

Pro and con: Steelers' no-huddle offense

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Todd Haley did not tip his hand regarding the topic that has dominated talk at Pittsburgh Steelers' headquarters this week and more than a few Western Pennsylvania establishments that serve adult beverages.

But the question had to be posed to Haley, and it dealt with whether or not he would be more inclined to run the no-huddle offense from the start of the Browns game given the success the Steelers had with it in beating the Lions.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarBen Roethlisberger and the Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Lions using the no-huddle.
“I am not going to divulge anything like that,” the Steelers offensive coordinator said with a laugh. “Sorry.”

What makes it just as difficult to project how much the Steelers will use the no-huddle offense against the Browns is a handful of variables as well as this: Arguments can be made for the Steelers to go no-huddle a lot in Cleveland or hardly use it at all.

The case for: The Steelers opened in a no-huddle offense against the Lions to keep Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley from settling into the game, and they also wanted to try to wear out the mammoth tackles.

The Browns are just as stout up front as the Lions, and nose tackle Phil Taylor is better than Suh or Fairley. The Browns also like to play a lot of defensive linemen and not huddling would limit how much Cleveland could substitute.

The most obvious reason for going with the no-huddle a lot is that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger thrives in it, and it may be the best way to attack a Browns defense that probably isn't going to give up a lot of rushing yards.

The case against: Rain didn't hamper the Steelers' ability to run the no-huddle against the Lions. Snow and the wind that whips off Lake Erie may be a different story. If the weather is as bad, as expected, the last thing the Steelers need to do is run a hurry-up attack that could leave them prone to turnovers.

The Steelers committed eight turnovers in a 20-14 loss at Cleveland last season, and their top priority Sunday should be hanging onto the football.

Haley lauded the communication that took place among the players and coaches against the Lions, but that becomes increasingly more difficult when playing on the road and in a stadium where fans boo and bark at the visiting team.

Haley says: “I thought Detroit was real good (on defense) but I think this team's better. It starts inside with Taylor and (defensive end Ahtyba) Rubin. The front seven in general, I think, is probably the best front seven we've seen. We've got our work cut out for us because as we move into late November and December you've got to be able to run the ball effectively when they know you're running it.”

My take: the Steelers should use the no-huddle sparingly against the Browns. The weather and crowd increase the difficulty of running it effectively, and it's not like the Steelers are going to need a lot of points to win a shootout with journeyman Jason Campbell starting for the Browns.

If I'm coach Mike Tomlin I lean toward a more conventional approach on offense and lean on my defense and special teams. Make Campbell beat you; don't do it to yourself.

Haley impressed with Browns defense

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
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PITTSBURGH -- The Cleveland Browns defense is apparently as impressive on film as it is on paper.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he thinks Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are even better than the Detroit Lions' defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

The Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t run on Suh and Fairley last Sunday as they mustered just 40 rushing yards in a 37-27 win over the Lions.

Next up for the Steelers are the Browns, who are yielding just 98.5 rushing yards per game and are fifth in the NFL in total offense. The Browns are one of three teams this season that have not allowed a 300-yard passer or 100-yard rusher in a game.

“I thought Detroit was real good but I think this team’s better,” Haley said on Thursday. “The front seven in general, I think, is probably the best front seven we’ve seen. We’ve got our work cut out for us because as we move into late November and December you’ve got to be able to run the ball effectively when they know you’re running it.”

Weather could be an issue in Cleveland as snow has been forecast for late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Snow and that wind that always seems to swirl off nearby Lake Erie could limit how much the Steelers throw the ball -- and run the no-huddle offense that worked so well against the Lions.

The Lions held Le'Veon Bell to 36 yards last Sunday, and the rookie running back is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. Haley said he is pleased with the progress Bell has made, citing his contributions in the passing game as well as some timely runs the former Michigan State star has made.

Haley said the Steelers need more big plays to improve a rushing attack that averages 76.5 yards per game.

“I want to see one of those breakout runs here pretty quick,” Haley said. “We’ve had to work for every yard but I do feel like we’re making progress even with some of the moving parts and different people we’ve had to plug in. What we need is a few of breakout runs. We’re going to keep working, keep working technique and I think it will happen and hopefully it’s happening at the right time.”
The AFC North blog will conclude its rankings of each position this week with defense. This is a projection on how the group will fare this season. It's not an evaluation based on last year. For Friday, let's look at the defensive line.

1. Cincinnati Bengals: When it comes to defensive lines in the AFC North, it's the Bengals and then there's everyone else. Geno Atkins is the NFL's best interior defensive lineman. Michael Johnson looked like Jason Taylor during his breakout year last season. Carlos Dunlap's production could finally meet his potential this year. And Domata Peko is one of the more underappreciated nose tackles in the game. Plus, there's talented depth with Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson and Margus Hunt.

2. Cleveland Browns: The Browns' best addition this offseason was Desmond Bryant. an under-the-radar free agent from Oakland who can become a game-changer up front in the Browns' new 3-4 defense. Phil Taylor will benefit if he moves to nose tackle. He's a powerful big body who can hold up against double teams in run defense and push the middle when rushing the passer. Ahtyba Rubin, who didn't make the same impact in 2012 as he did the previous season, has shed some pounds in anticipation of moving to end.

3. Baltimore Ravens: This could end up being the most improved defensive line from a year ago, when the Ravens' defensive line was the weakest spot on the team. Haloti Ngata is primed for a bounce-back season after playing out of position last season. He is expected to line up more inside (perhaps replacing Terrence Cody at nose tackle), where he's more comfortable playing. The free-agent addition of Chris Canty will boost the pass rush and the signing of Marcus Spears will significantly upgrade the run defense. Art Jones got better as the season progressed, starting six of Baltimore's final 10 games.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers: The only certainty on the line is Brett Keisel, and he showed his age at times last season. This is likely the last season for Keisel, who turns 35 in September. This is also the last season for Ziggy Hood to prove he deserves a second contract. He hasn't been a bust, but he hasn't lived up to expectations of a first-round pick. The Steelers are banking on Steve McLendon to replace Casey Hampton. This is a tough ranking considering the Steelers' run defense has ranked in the top three for eight of the past nine seasons. But there's a lot of question marks with this group this year.

In case you missed the other AFC North position rankings this week, you can click here for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line.
The rumor of the Cleveland Browns trading for New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett won't go away. Whether you're for or against this move, everyone can probably agree that it's getting to the point where the Browns need to make a decision on which quarterback to add this offseason.

[+] EnlargeRyan Mallett
AP Photo/Jim MahoneyRyan Mallett was rated as the top quarterback in the 2011 draft by Browns GM Mike Lombardi.
As reporters try to connect the dots on how this deal could happen, one popular theory is Matt Cassel returning to be the backup for the Patriots, who then can trade Mallett to the Browns. But Cassel, who was released by the Chiefs on Thursday, could be going to the Vikings, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Another scenario has the Browns trading a defensive lineman for Mallett. Tony Grossi of ESPN Radio in Cleveland believes the free-agent signing of Desmond Bryant would allow the Browns to shop Phil Taylor or Ahtyba Rubin in a package deal for Mallett. It's true that Patriots coach Bill Belichick collects defensive linemen like many people hoard bobbleheads. And, while the Browns would prefer to unload Rubin and his $6 million salary this year, Taylor is the more valuable commodity.

Still, the Browns don't feel like they have to make a move involving their defensive line. Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner said they can use all six defensive linemen on the team.

"There’s no reason to think we have an abundance at this point," Banner said. "It’s a crucial area as we look at the team. We feel good about where we are at numbers-wise.”

If the Browns don't get Mallett, they have to find a quarterback somewhere. Owner Jimmy Haslam said there is going to be a quarterback competition this year, but the Browns have yet to bring in someone to compete against Brandon Weeden.

Alex Smith was traded to Kansas City. Matt Moore re-signed with Miami. And, to the delight of many Browns fans, Derek Anderson re-signed with the Panthers. So, what's left? Ryan Fitzpatrick was released by the Bills, and Jason Campbell is still out there in free agency. By the weekend, Kevin Kolb will be available because the Cardinals aren't going to pay his $2 million roster bonus on March 17.

If the Browns pass on all of them, the talk of a possible trade for Mallett will continue up until the draft.
When you heard about the free-agent interior defensive linemen, the list included popular names such as Richard Seymour and Cullen Jenkins. But Desmond Bryant -- not to be confused with Dez Bryant -- will make more of an impact than both of them this season.

Bryant
Bryant agreed to a five-year, $34 million contract with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, according to The Plain Dealer. While the Browns' first move of free agency can be debated, the team's second one is shrewd.

At 27 years old, Bryant is one of those under-the-radar players who has the chance to be a game-changer on the Browns' new 3-4 defense. He spent four seasons on an underachieving Oakland Raiders defense, but he always showed great tenacity and a high motor.

The red flag on Bryant was his arrest last month in Miami on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. The positives with the 6-foot-6, 311-pound lineman out of Harvard outweigh this incident.

Bryant's reputation is being a run-stuffer, but he can get collapse the middle of the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, his 35 total pressures ranked him fourth among all qualifying defensive tackles.

It's uncertain what effect this signing has on the future of Browns interior lineman Ahtyba Rubin. All that is known now is the Browns added two pieces to the new defense's front seven with Bryant and outside linebacker Paul Kruger, and it's only the first day of free agency.

Browns' top salary-cap numbers

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
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The Browns are right behind the Bengals in salary-cap room with an estimated $50 million. Like the Bengals, the Browns have relatively low cap numbers, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Only five players on the entire team are over $5 million. In fact, there are only 10 Cleveland players with cap figures over $2 million.

As free agency approaches, the Browns don't have to worry about getting under the cap. The big question is how they're going to use all of that cap room.

Here are the top 10 salary-cap numbers for the Browns:

1. Joe Thomas, OT, $11.4 million

2. Joe Haden, CB, $9.24 million

3. Ahtyba Rubin, DT, $7.57 million

4. D'Qwell Jackson, LB, $6.4 million

5. Alex Mack, C, $5.03 million

6. Chris Gocong, LB, $4.86 million

7. Trent Richardson, RB, $4.65 million

8. Colt McCoy, QB, $2.51 million

9. Usama Young, S, $2.4 million

10. Phil Taylor, DT, $2.2 million
Hope everyone had a better Thanksgiving than Rex Ryan. We'll resume our normal Friday coverage, which includes my predictions and the Final Word later today. Here is your wake-up call ...

RAVENS: Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson will play against his former team for the first time Sunday. Johnson, who played 398 games for the Ravens from 2003 to 2011, said he would have preferred to finish his career in Baltimore but he realized it was time to move on in free agency. "I kind of knew the writing on the wall going into the year -- the way that [Paul] Kruger was coming on, the way things were kind of working out, other guys' contracts," Johnson said, via The Baltimore Sun. "You can't pay everybody. So I kind of expected it, and they made it pretty clear pretty early that it wasn't going to work out. I was just fortunate enough to have a team like San Diego. They were extremely interested in me." Johnson has 27 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble for the Chargers.

STEELERS: The most immediate impact from wide receiver Plaxico Burress should come in the red zone. He scored seven of his eight touchdowns last season inside the 20-yard line as the Jets were the NFL's top red zone offense. The Steelers need help in that area of the field, ranking 20th in red-zone efficiency. “He brings us size. Now we’ve got to get him up to speed,” Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s the challenge.”

BENGALS: Rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the 17th overall pick, saw his most extensive work on defense last Sunday, playing 26 snaps on defense, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. He recorded the first two tackles of his career in Kansas City. “It was pretty much my first time just getting thrown out there,” said Kirkpatrick, who missed most of training camp and the first seven games of the season with a knee injury. “I wanted to get used to the speed, and when I got used to the speed everything kind of slowed down for me. I wasn’t worried about those throws. As long as there weren’t any balls over my head and all the balls were contested balls and I was in the right position. So I felt pretty good out there.”

BROWNS: Cleveland has 27 sacks this season, five off last year's total. The Browns' seven sacks Sunday at Dallas were their most in one game since they sacked Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger eight times in a 13-6 victory Dec. 10, 2009. The increased pass rush was the result of interior linemen Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin playing together for the first time this season. One of the most damaging things about a pass rush when you have big, physical guys [in the middle] is the push in the quarterback's face," coach Pat Shurmur said, via The Plain Dealer. "When the pocket collapses in front of him, that's what restricts the quarterback's vision, more than what he knows is happening off the edges."
The injury talk usually happens after the Ravens and Steelers play. But, as you can see in the wake-up call, there are concerns before the two physical rivals meet Sunday night:

RAVENS: The team signed former Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson and placed reserve running back Bobby Rainey on injured reserve. The Baltimore Sun suggests the move indicates increasing concern over the health of starting cornerback Jimmy Smith, who suited up but didn't play a snap Sunday because of an abdomen injury. Johnson was signed following a tryout of two veteran cornerbacks, Rod Issac (Jaguars) and Terrence Johnson (Falcons). The Ravens started Corey Graham on Sunday and used Chykie Brown as the nickelback.

STEELERS: A sprained sternoclavicular (SC) joint apparently isn't Ben Roethlisberger's only injury. Sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback also hurt a rib when he was sacked Monday night and that injury, which was not mentioned by coach Mike Tomlin, could be a serious problem. The paper speculated that it could be a matter of weeks before Roethlisberger returns to play for the Steelers. The injury occurred on the only sack allowed by the Steelers that night. Also, Tomlin referred to the decision to waive rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu as "strictly a personnel move" and hinted that he may be back.
BENGALS: Adam Jones is looking to become the third Bengals player to finish as the NFL's leading punt returner, according to the team's official website. Jones' average of 17 yards per punt trails only the 19.5 of Buffalo's Leodis McKelvin. Jones had a 68-yard punt return in Sunday's win over the Giants, and according to Elias Sports Bureau, he is the second Cincinnati player to have two punt returns of at least 68 yards in the same season. The only Bengal to do that before Jones was Craig Yeast in 1999.

BROWNS: It's Week 11 of the NFL season, and Browns defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor may finally play their first game together this season. According to The Plain Dealer, Rubin participated in the first practice since the team returned from the bye week and is looking to play Sunday at Dallas. He's only played about a quarter over the last four games since injuring his calf on Oct. 7. "We're both dominant," Rubin said of himself and Taylor, who missed the first seven games with a torn pectoral muscle. "If I'm making a play, he's making a play and vice versa. We're just chipping away, trying to get back out there 100 percent. When we do get out there, it's gonna be something nice."
Here's a quick look at what's happening in the division:

RAVENS: Linebacker Terrell Suggs is back after missing the first six games of the season with an Achilles injury, but the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is still lamenting the loss of linebacker Ray Lewis, who was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list with a torn triceps. "There's no word, really, in the English dictionary that can describe how important this man is to this team and this city," Suggs told the NFL Network. "Losing him was catastrophic, and it's going to be hard to fill that void."

STEELERS: Traveling back and forth on the same day for their game at the Giants won't affect the Steelers, linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "It'll kind of take us back to high school days," Woodley said. "The day you play on you travel, you go play and you leave and go right back home." The Steelers were forced to change their travel plans when their New Jersey hotel had its power knocked out by superstorm Sandy.

BENGALS: Head coach Marvin Lewis said too much was made of his comments Thursday, when he challenged quarterback Andy Dalton and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to step up as leaders. Lewis told reporters Friday that he wasn't taking his players to task. "Shame on me for saying anything," Lewis said. "Don't worry, I will never say anything again. Too much has been made of it that way. It's not critical of anybody. It wasn't meant to be critical. It's actually to say there is a belief in those guys to move forward. We have a great confidence in them that they can and bring their teammates with them."

BROWNS: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor was activated off the physically unable to perform list and will play against the Ravens on Sunday. Taylor, a 2011 first-round pick who missed the first eight games after undergoing surgery on a torn chest muscle, isn't expected to start but will be part of the line rotation. Ahtyba Rubin, the other starting defensive tackle, is out for a second game in a row with a calf injury.
Hope everyone has come down from their Halloween sugar rush by now. There's a lot of chatter going on in the division these days. A quarterback has to respond to his coach's challenge. Another team has to address allegations of dirty play. And there are a couple of starters who are looking to bounce back from injuries. Just another typical day in the division. Hopefully the wake-up call will clear everything up ...

RAVENS: The Ravens refuted the Browns' accusations of dirty play. After the Ravens' 23-16 win on Sept. 27, safety Ray Ventrone alleged that the Ravens were participating in “extracurricular stuff," and cornerback Dimitri Patterson backed up his teammate’s claim. “I have no idea what they’re talking about,” Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher told The Baltimore Sun. “I think we’re just playing football. I think our offensive line, we’re focusing more on finishing plays. We’re trying to make holes for the running back and protect the quarterback.” The only time the Ravens were flagged for a personal foul resulted in offsetting penalties with the Browns.

STEELERS: Three days after suffering a concussion, safety Ryan Clark was a full participant in practice Wednesday but he will have to pass a final test Friday or Saturday to be cleared to play Sunday, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I feel good," Clark said. "I wasn't knocked out. I was never actually 'asleep' on the field. I venture to say I've been in that position before but [have] not been taken out of the game or not told anybody." Clark said it's his first concussion. If Clark is unable to play, Ryan Mundy would start in his place. Troy Polamalu (calf), the Steelers' other starting safety, has already been ruled out.

BENGALS: Quarterback Andy Dalton didn't take any offense to coach Marvin Lewis' challenge to him and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to step up as leaders. "I don’t have any doubt that I've got everything that will please him in whatever was said," Dalton said, via the team's official website. "He's expecting a lot out of me and Rey and the leaders on this team. It wouldn't have been said if we weren't where we were. Maybe it’s the fire we need." Lewis pointed out that Dalton and Maualuga can't be nice guys all the time. Dalton smiled when asked if he can start being a jerk. "Maybe I should have staged a fight or something today. That would have been good," he said.

BROWNS: Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor said he expects to make his season debut Sunday against Ravens after being sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle. Taylor, who's wearing a harness over his left shoulder, indicated that he probably won't start. "They might roll me in just for this first game, so I can just get back in the swing of things," Taylor told the Akron Beacon Journal. "I’ve got to earn it. I haven’t played this year yet. What I did last year was last year. So I’ve gotta get in there this year and earn my spot.” Ahtyba Rubin (calf), the Browns' other starting defensive tackle, didn't practice Wednesday.

Upon Further Review: Browns

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
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Revisiting the Cleveland Browns' 7-6 win over the San Diego Chargers:

The Browns put together an outstanding defensive performance, holding the Chargers without a touchdown and 18 points below their season average. What makes it more outstanding is the fact the Cleveland defense did this without four starters in its front seven.

Rookies John Hughes (third round) and Billy Winn (sixth round) replaced veteran defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. Rookie James-Michael Johnson (fourth round) and Kaluka Maiava have taken over for outside linebackers Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong, both of whom are on injured reserve.

In Sunday's win, Johnson forced a fumble that Winn recovered. Then, on the Chargers' final play of the game, another backup stepped up. Cornerback Buster Skrine tipped away Philip Rivers' fourth-and-10 pass to preserve the victory.

"Let's not kid anybody here, our defense won us that football game," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "You know field position was a struggle, the weather was a struggle but games like that in those conditions to have our defense play like they did, they won the football game for us. If I had a game ball I'd give it to those guys. They played their tails off and made play after play against a really good offense."

The Browns' defense, which had allowed 27.1 points in its first six games, has now given up three field goals in its past six quarters.

STAT THAT STICKS: 5 -- Rushing touchdowns for Trent Richardson in eight games. That's the most by a Browns rookie since William Green in 2002.

OVERHEARD: “I haven’t had a game like that since ’06 when I played with the Royals,” quarterback (and former minor-league pitcher) Brandon Weeden said of the 7-6 score.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Browns (2-6), who have won two straight at home, play host to the Ravens (5-2), who have won nine straight over Cleveland.
Cleveland Browns fullback Owen Marecic was a surprise inactive for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, putting a question mark at that position. There's a chance that the Browns could use tight end Alex Smith at fullback or go with single-back formations.

Starting defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf) will be sidelined for the second time in three weeks.

Here are the Browns inactives: DT Ahtyba Rubin (calf), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), CB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), RB Brandon Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, FB Owen Marecic, and OL Jarrod Shaw.

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