BEREA — With possibly both Browns starting cornerbacks out or not at 100 percent, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and his staff will be scrambling to figure out how to slow A.J. Green and the Bengals offense down.
The Browns will certainly miss cornerback Joe Haden starting this week as he serves the first of his four-game suspension. Sheldon Brown, the starter at right corner might also miss some time in this week’s game after suffering a shoulder injury against the Eagles, although Pat Shurmur said Brown was ‘good to go’.
Dimitri Patterson is expected to move into Haden’s spot at left cornerback and either Buster Skrine, rookie Trevin Wade or Johnson Bademosi will be in the sub packages.
“If you do the math, that makes sense,” Shurmur said (of Patterson replacing Haden).
Shurmur admitted the Browns will miss Haden, but expect the replacements to play well.
“We’re going to miss Joe for a month and the next guy in there will play extremely well,” he said. “We all know the rules and so we’ll move forward.”
Green feels that Haden is one of the best corners in the league.
“Joe is probably one of the premier corners in the league,” Green said. “He’s probably in the top five.
“He’s aggressive,” he said. “He’s smart. He has everything you want to see in a corner.”
Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis agreed.
“Joe’s been one of the best young corners in the NFL,” Lewis said. “He competes well.”
Shurmur said that defending Green presents its challenges.
“They move him around,” Shurmur said. “It’s obvious they are trying to get him the football.”
Green had five receptions for 70 yards, including a long of 19 yards against the Ravens.
Shurmur said the Browns liked Green a lot coming out of the draft last year and speculation is they would’ve taken him two picks after he was picked if he was still available. However, the Bengals took him fourth overall and the Browns traded down with the Falcons, who selected wide receiver Julio Jones.
“We liked him a lot and felt he was going to be a top-flight receiver in this league,” Shurmur said. “(His success) comes as no surprise to us.”
Obviously, the Bengals liked Green a lot, as well.
“(Green) does most things very well,” Lewis said. “He’s still a young player, and he’s a great young talent and has a focus on getting better all the time. If he’s not your best player, he’s one of your hardest working players.”
Green said he will approach this week’s game just like he would if Haden was covering him.
“I’m going to take the same approach that I do when Joe’s out there,” Green said.
Green said he’s getting used to all of the attention he’s getting on the field.
“There always crowding my side,” he said. “I need to be patient and look all over the field.”
Green’s goal is to be the best receiver in the NFL.
“That’s what I work for every day,” he said. “I won’t stop until I get to where I want to be, but I have a long way to go.”
Last year in the season opener, Green caught a 41-yard pass from Bruce Gradkowski for a touchdown when the Browns were caught napping on a quick snap.
“It was just a quick snap,” Green said. “We tried to catch them out of position and (the quarterback) just threw it up and I caught it for the score.”
In the second game, Green caught a 51-yard pass that set up the Bengals’ winning field goal. He had three receptions for 110 yards for the game.
“That was last year,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and play.”
Fujita Back: Shurmur said that LB Scott Fujita will be back practicing and anticipates him stepping back into the lineup.
“Scott will be in the base and watch him and see what he can handle,” Shurmur said.
Rookie LB L.J. Fort and LB Craig Robertson filled in for Fujita last week. Both players had interceptions while Fort had a sack. Robertson tied for the team lead with eight tackles.
Fujita was back at practice Wednesday wearing a small brace on his knee.
Haslam’s New Role: New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III is stepping down as the CEO of Pilot Flying J to presumably allow him to put his full attention on the Browns. Pilot Flying J is the family business and that makes a strong statement that Haslam is serious about turning the Browns fortunes around.
Shurmur was asked what he knew of the move.
“I find out some of that information as we go along,” Shurmur said. “I was made aware of it yesterday and am sure he will have a huge role in the Pilot Flying J business. From what I understand he is the chairman.”
The NFL owners are expected to approve Haslam as the Browns new owner at owner’s meetings on Oct. 16.
Rucker Captain: The fourth captain for the Bengals game is DE Frostee Rucker, who played for Bengals last season.
“He’s done a lot of good things, displaying veteran leadership,” Shurmur said.
Rucker came over from the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent.
“Frostee developed as a young man and as a football player,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “I’m very happy and proud of Frostee and what he has accomplished.”
Rucker was recommended by the three team captains: OL Joe Thomas, LB D’Qwell Jackson and K Phil Dawson.
Brown Back: CB Sheldon Brown was back at practice after leaving the Eagles game with a shoulder injury. He left in the first half and did not return with what was described as a ‘shoulder stinger’.
“He will be out there,” Shurmur said when asked if he’d be at practice.
Brown has appeared in 161-straight games, currently the second-longest active streak in the NFL to DB Ronde Barber of Tampa Bay.
OL Oniel Cousins (ankle) was back at practice, while LB James-Michael Johnson (oblique/ribs) and DB Ray Ventrone (hamstring) missed practice.
Richardson Responds Well: Shurmur said that RB Trent Richardson came out of the Eagles game with no ill-effects physically.
“He did great and he came in the next day and there was no swelling or anything in the game that set him back,” Shurmur said.
Richardson carried the ball 19 times for just 39 yards (2.1 avg.). He also caught one pass for five yards.
Shurmur said he expects that Richardson will have a better week of practice this week in preparation for Sunday’s game.
He also expects the rushing game to be much better this week with the timing between the Richardson and the line being better.
“The coordination of the blocking is a team thing,” Shurmur said. “In general, we need to do a better job of running the football.”
Marvin Lewis respects Richardson’s talent.
“Trent’s a great talent,” Lewis said. “He was a great prospect coming out. I was disappointed Cleveland chose him since he plays in our division.”
Lewis on Weeden: Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis said QB Brandon Weeden didn’t play as bad as his stats appeared. He noted of the interceptions, that they weren’t all Weeden’s fault.
“I don’t think he played nearly as bad as the criticism he’s been getting,” Lewis said. “He certainly knows where he wants to go based on the coverage. I wish I could count on what happened last week this week.”
Shurmur said he hasn’t seen any loss of confidence in Weeden.
“I see the same guy I saw last week.”
Former Brown Faine: When the Bengals lost their starting center Kyle Cook with an injured ankle, they signed former Browns first-round draft pick Jeff Faine to be the team’s starting center on Sept. 4.
“We were very fortunate that we were able to get him at that time,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the Bengals liked Faine when he was drafted by the Browns in 2003.
“We liked him coming out and Cleveland took Faine and we took (Eric) Steinbach,” he said. “It’s interesting how that turned out.”
Steinbach signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent and was with the Browns until after the 2011 season.