Five keys for Browns vs. Cowboys

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 15, 2012 – 5:15 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys:

>>Run Trent Richardson early and often. After back-to-back 100-yard rushing games and a week to rest his aching ribs, Richardson should be primed to have another big day. The fact the Cowboys have a banged-up front seven should also help encourage the Browns to be persistent with their ground attack.

>>Maintain the edge in turnover margin. The Browns are an impressive plus-one in takeaway-giveaway, while the Cowboys are minus-11. The Browns need to play as close to a perfect game as possible to beat any opponent, and it has to start with avoiding turnovers. Brandon Weeden must make a certain amount of plays with his throwing arm, but he can do more to help the Browns’ cause by managing the game well and taking care of the ball.

>>Keep DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in check. The Browns have done a nice job in pass protection through nine games, allowing only 14 sacks. They’ll need left tackle Joe Thomas to be at the very top of his game and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to continue to perform exceptionally well as a rookie starter.

>>Dominate up front with Ahtyba Rubin rejoining Phil Taylor as the Browns’ defensive-tackle tandem. Rubin’s return from a calf injury should give the Browns something they haven’t had all season: their two best tackles working side by side. Taylor’s performance against the Ravens in Week 9, his first game since suffering an offseason pectoral injury, was highly impressive. He has made significant strides since his rookie season last year. With Rubin and Taylor rotating with rookies John Hughes and Billy Winn, the Browns have the ability to control the line of scrimmage.

>>Don’t let the Cowboys’ pass-catchers take over the game. The Browns’ secondary will have a tremendous challenge preventing Tony Romo from connecting for big plays in the passing game. Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Kevin Ogletree are explosive players who will push cornerbacks Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown, and Buster Skrine to the limit. And the Browns need a big game from safety T.J. Ward to help keep one of the NFL’s most dangerous tight ends, Jason Witten, from making a major impact.

>>Carucci’s Corner is presented by Panera Bread.

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