By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers:
>>Don’t get overwhelmed by the Chargers’ running game. The Chargers have a trio of effective running backs in Ryan Mathews, Jackie Battle, and Ronnie Brown. The Browns can’t let them get the chunk yardage they too often gave up against what was supposed to have been a Colts running game weakened by injury in Week 7. Defensive tackles John Hughes and Billy Winn seemed to hit a little bit of a rookie wall at Indianapolis. They must make a strong rebound.
>>Turn up the heat on Philip Rivers. The Browns have managed to get some pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They’ll need to keep that trend going against a Chargers offensive line that has had some issues protecting Rivers. And when Rivers feels the heat, he can become prone to making mistakes. Jabaal Sheard, Frostee Rucker, and Juqua Parker must consistently win their battles up front. Rivers does his best working from the pocket, so the Browns have to create as much discomfort as possible for him there.
>>Find success against the NFL’s 25th-rank pass defense. Brandon Weeden had his most efficient performance of the season against the Colts. He took good care of the ball and made some excellent throws. Weeden continually did his part to put the Browns in position to win despite the lack of a running game. It won’t be any easier for them to run against the Chargers, who have the league’s No. 1 run defense.
>>Get the running game in gear. Trent Richardson’s rib injury became a large pain for the entire offense last week because the Browns could never any traction on the ground. If Richardson is again unable to make much of a contribution, the Browns still need to get production from Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya. Their offensive line has to get push, although that won’t be easy against the Chargers’ stout defensive front.
>>Get off to a fast start. The Browns have shown repeatedly that they simply aren’t good enough to put themselves in an early hole. When the Browns have to chase points, they tend to struggle under the stress of it all and make mistakes. And as their young roster goes through its growing pains, the Browns can’t afford to squander any scoring chances.
>>Carucci’s Corner is presented by Panera Bread.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.
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