Five Browns to watch closely

BY foxsports • November 4, 2010

By Zac Jackson
FOX Sports Ohio
November 3, 2010

The Browns are back to work. The red-hot Patriots are coming to town. Eric Mangini's job is at stake over the next nine weeks.

Other than that stuff, everything's quiet in Berea.

With the Browns looking to build off the momentum of a stunning win in New Orleans and right the ship after a 2-5 start, here are their five most important players as the stretch run begins...

1. Colt McCoy -- Whether it's by injury default or coach's choice -- Coach Mangini or Coach Holmgren, as he's known around the building -- it looks like the Browns will be going with the rookie at quarterback for at least this week's really big game with the Patriots. That's not exactly the best-case scenario, but McCoy has a pretty big win under his belt, has handled himself well thus far and has had an extra week to prepare for this game. There's also that little thing where he's getting better and learning with every snap but also playing for his future and that of the franchise. Barring a miracle, the Browns are going to have a top 12 pick next April. Matter of fact, they still could have a top 3 pick. Do they need to use it on a quarterback? Colt McCoy, you're the next man up.

2. Peyton Hillis -- His best Kevin Mack impersonation over the first seven games has been nothing short of incredible. But with his violent running style and the second-leading rusher on the roster currently also doubling as the punter, the Browns need Hillis to stay healthy -- and Hillis needs to stay healthy to prove to the Browns and the rest of the league that he can. He needs to keep punishing opposing linebackers and safeties while staying fresh for when a team that relies on the run 65 or 70 percent of the time has to start running 85 percent of the time as the weather turns nasty. This Hillis Dude, by the way, is a punisher and an athletic freak at 245. If he's a long-term answer, the Browns hit the jackpot.

3. Shaun Rogers -- Hasn't been healthy. Presumably wasn't happy. Sometimes was as close to invisible as a 360-pound athletic marvel can be, then he went out and reminded the Saints just how unique and disruptive he can be. Which #92 shows up from here? And does that determine where he plays next year? Quite possibly. If the Browns are going to beat the Patriots or the Jets next week, they're going to need Rogers' A-game. Here's what Mike Holmgren said about Rogers this week: "I've always said this, of the guys I have coaches against over the years, he as a defensive lineman gave me more problems than most people. I think ultimately it