Good morning, Cleveland Browns fans, and welcome to gameday! Be sure to check out our game preview and prediction for the Browns' Week 12 matchup today against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five," I talk about NT Phil Taylor being aware of what the Steelers may try to do to him, Pittsburgh trying to move WR Antonio Brown away from CB Joe Haden, the weather forecast, and more.
Sometimes, played will let things in the past slip by the wayside. I don't think that is going to be the case for the Steelers today against Browns NT Phil Taylor. Taylor was criticized heavily by the Steelers last season for a hit he had on Steelers offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum. We wrote a post that defended Taylor's hit, and pointed out the hypocritical behavior that Pittsburgh's players and some of their fans were showing. Beachum is now the starting left tackle for the Steelers.
While Taylor did not want to use the word "hate" in association with the Steelers, fellow defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin didn't shy away from it.
#Browns NT Phil Taylor on #Steelers: "Hate is a strong word. But I really do dislike them. This game, it means a lot."— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) November 22, 2013
#Browns NT Taylor on hitting #Steelers OT Beachum w/forearm, giving him concussion last yr in finale: "I was just playing thru the whistle"— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) November 22, 2013
#Browns NT Taylor on if #Steelers will go at him b/c of last yr: "They can try what they want. Not going to let them get me out of my game"— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) November 22, 2013
#Browns DE Ahtyba Rubin on how he feels about #Steelers: "You could use the word hate. A lot of people around here would use that word."— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) November 22, 2013
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert hinted that the Steelers will retaliate and come after Taylor in some fashion:
"It is no motivation once he gets on the field," Gilbert said, adding that he also had an incident with Taylor. "He knows what it is, and it is business. It is smash mouth football, and there’s no talking. It is what it is. We are aware of it, but football is football, and I am pretty sure he is going to get his. It was a dirty play, and he put it on film. Once it is on film, it is out there."
The rest of the Browns seemed to echo the sentiment that they will be ready for this week's game and the rivalry. Earlier in the week, head coach Rob Chudzinski stated that if players didn't get the rivalry yet, he would make sure they got it.
The Browns need to pay extra attention to WR Antonio Brown today because I don't think the rest of their receivers (Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery) can beat us. It's been well-documented now that CB Joe Haden is playing his best season, shutting down opposing teams' No. 1 receivers with relative ease. This might be the week where a team like the Steelers gameplan to move Brown around and get him matched up on some other defenders. Here is an example in a film room piece our Steelers affiliate did a couple of weeks ago after Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore:
BTSC expanded on their explanation of Brown's usage:
Todd Haley has done a great job of moving Antonio Brown around so he can get open. Additionally, Brown has shown a willingness to expand his role in the offense. What I mean by that is Brown has shown the willingness to study the playbook so he is prepared to play multiple positions.
Cleveland will also need to keep their eye on TE Heath Miller, who isn't having his best season after returning from an ACL injury but has still had his fair share of good outings against Cleveland.
The Browns will be without ILB Craig Robertson this week, meaning Tank Carder will make his first start of the season. Funny enough, Carder's only other career start came in Week 17 last season against the Steelers, also as an injury replacement (but at outside linebacker). Carder only played 30% of the snaps in that game, though, the equivalent of 17 snaps. If defensive coordinator Ray Horton utilizes Carder in the same way he has Robertson, then Carder will probably play the entire game.
There might actually be a good thing about Carder getting some playing time, though. He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Bills last year, but was never given a serious look on defense. Robertson had been scuffling on defense this season, and just a few weeks ago, I hinted that it might be worth seeing how someone else could play the position. Also, it's not like Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley has a lot to go on film wise with regards to how Carder plays, besides his 38 snaps in relief of Robertson last week (a game in which Carder finished with seven tackles and did not look lost). Who knows; maybe Carder will actually surprise the Steelers with some high-impact plays.
I was hoping the weather forecast would be calling for snow, but there is only a 20% chance of snow at game time, and it declines as the game is going on. At best, we might see a few flakes. It will be cold and windy, though, with 20 MPH winds making it feel like it is in the low 20's (and perhaps colder down by the lake).
In terms of what the fans can expect at the stadium, Kevin Griffin posted this on Twitter, indicating something new would debut in the first quarter:
New "specially designed" banner to reveal for the #Browns vs Steelers game. Keep an eye out in the 1st quarter. #MakeItLoud— Kevin Griffin (@KevinGriffin425) November 23, 2013
I wonder what uniforms the Browns will wear. It will probably be the brown tops and white pants, which would force the Steelers to be in their white tops and yellow pants. I wouldn't mind seeing the all-brown uniforms make a return, but maybe those will be reserved exclusively for prime time games.
It's time to predict the inactives for today's game. Here are my guesses for the Browns' gameday inactives against the Bengals (there are seven inactives required): TE MarQueis Gray, OL Patrick Lewis, OT Martin Wallace, OG Garrett Gilkey, OT Reid Fragel, DT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, and ILB Craig Robertson.
This scenario would mean that both WR Josh Cooper and WR Brian Tyms would be active. I'd like for Cooper to be the No. 4 receiver, but based on how things went earlier this season, Tyms would get reps ahead of him. There's a chance we might also see DB Jordan Poyer get some punt return action after WR Armanti Edwards was placed on injured reserve. WR Davone Bess would serve as the emergency third quarterback this week. If DE Armonty Bryant is too hurt to play this week, then Kitchen would likely be active in his place.