The Cleveland Browns will face a Washington team that comes into Sunday’s game at FirstEnergy Stadium with the league’s 31st-ranked offense.
Washington is 31st in yards per carry (3.3), 25th in rushing yards (197), has only one rush of more than 20 yards, and quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. has been sacked seven times, completed just 56 percent of his passes, earned the second-lowest passing grade in the NFL from PFF with a 47.8 and is 33rd in QBR from ESPN.
There is one thing that Washington does well on offense, however, and that is throw the ball to second-year wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
Terry McLaurin:— PFF (@PFF) September 24, 2020
115 Yards after Catch (1st)
5 Missed Tackles Forced (1st)
133.9 Passer Rating (6th)
Feed the man. pic.twitter.com/OTGvccgivd
McLaurin is coming off a Week 2 performance that saw him finish with seven receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. He has now played 16 career games for Washington, and according to the team’s website, he has put together one of the best starts to a career in franchise history. (And that history dates back to 1932).
McLaurin is second with 1,105 receiving, tied for second with eight touchdown receptions, and is third with 70 receptions.
So, naturally, it appears that the Browns will enter the game without two of their top cornerbacks.
Greedy Williams will miss his third consecutive game with a shoulder injury, while it appears likely that cornerback Denzel Ward will miss the game with a groin injury. While Ward has not been ruled out, on Friday head coach Kevin Stefanski said Ward is “truly questionable” to go against Washington and his availability will be a game-time decision.
#Browns outside corners Terrance Mitchell and Denzel Ward were ♂️ in coverage vs. CIN. They both finished top-15 in yds allowed per cover snap and each forced three pass-breakups, T-1st among WK2 CBs. pic.twitter.com/EAS7XeKDT5— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) September 22, 2020
If Ward is not able to go, the responsibility for keeping tabs on McLaurin could fall to cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who has been quietly putting up a nice start to the season. Mitchell has been targeted 14 times this season, but has only given up five receptions for 33 yards, according to clevelandbrowns.com.
It is not all bad news for the secondary as cornerback Kevin Johnson was able to participate fully in practice on Thursday and Friday. Johnson has been out since August 20 after suffering a lacerated liver, but looks to be ready to play on Sunday.
But after missing more than a month, it is hard to know what Johnson can bring to the field, Stefanski said on Friday, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“Excited to have Kevin back. He’s looked really good throughout the week. We’ve just got to be mindful that this is his first football action. He hasn’t played these last two games, so we’ll monitor how he’s doing, but he’s had a nice week of practice.”
The Browns should be able to keep the Washington offense in check - especially if the defensive line plays like it did against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 - but if the secondary does not get a handle on McLaurin, it could be a long day.