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News » Browns hope to repeat success against receiver

Browns hope to repeat success against receiver

Browns hope to repeat success against receiver

The Browns are gearing up for Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson, the NFL's leader in reception yards with 955. His 71 catches are third in the NFL.

"Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the NFL right now," said Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. "He's playing at a high level and he's a guy that can win one-on-one. It's one of those things where you pick your poison [between Johnson and running back Steve Slaton], and we're going to try to contain those guys and make sure we don't let them take over the game."

Last season, then-rookie Browns cornerback Brandon McDonald held Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowler, to three catches for 37 yards and picked off a pass intended for him. The Browns converted the theft into a touchdown and won, 27-17.

"We didn't play clean Football," Johnson said on a conference call. "You have to protect the ball when playing against them because they can force a lot of turnovers. It's going to be a test for us and it's going to be a challenge, and hopefully we can come up and stand up to that challenge."

The Texans, although No. 5 in offense with 370 yards per game, are last in the NFL with a minus-13 turnover differential. They've thrown a league-high 15 interceptions and are tied for second-worst in the league with 22 giveaways. The Browns, conversely, are tied for third in the NFL with 13 picks and are tied for fifth with 18 takeaways. They're third overall with a plus-8 turnover differential.

"That's been a thing that's been killing us the whole year," Johnson said. "We've just been turning the ball over."

Smith doubtful: Browns defensive lineman Shaun Smith sat out practice Friday and is doubtful for Sunday's game with a strained calf muscle. The injury leaves the Browns thin on the defensive line. The following six players are questionable: running back Jerome Harrison (hamstring), tight end Steve Heiden (elbow), safety Sean Jones (ankle), defensive lineman Shaun Rogers (neck), fullback Lawrence Vickers (ankle) and tight end Kellen Winslow (shoulder). Of the six, Heiden sat out practice and the others were limited. Quarterback Brady Quinn (finger) and offensive lineman Eric Steinbach (ribs) participated fully and are probable. In the portion of practice open to the media, Winslow caught a few passes over his head, one of the criteria for his availability.

D.Q. on distractions: Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said the Browns have handled their adversity well this season, in part because coach Romeo Crennel addresses the issues as they arise.

"In a way it shows the maturity of this team," Jackson said. "Last week, we got a win after the q-word [quit] was mentioned."

He kidded that controversy is "good luck for us. A normal week? It hasn't happened all year, so I don't even expect a normal week."

Davis returns: Former Browns receiver Andre Davis returns to the Texans' lineup as the kickoff returner and third receiver after undergoing surgery in October to repair a dislocated left ring finger. Davis is averaging 22.2 yards on kickoff returns with a long of 50.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 23, 2008

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Rex Hadnot Name: Rex Hadnot
Position: C
Age: 26
Experience: 5 years
College: Houston
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