Registrato: 30/08/17 10:31
|MIAMI The Browns (0 2) limp into their matchup Sunday against the Dolphins (0 2) with a rash of injuries that have hit the team hard in the past two weeks. They lost Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown to broken bones in their left shoulders in each of the first two games, and will start rookie Cody Kessler on Sunday. They lost rookie defensive end Carl Nassib to a broken hand in Sunday's 25 20 loss to the Ravens and center Cam Erving to a bruised lung. On Wednesday, rookie Corey Coleman broke his hand and will be out 4 6 weeks, and cornerback Joe Haden (groin) is questionable and kicker Patrick Murray (knee) went on injured reserve Saturday. A 2014 Pro Bowler, Cody Parkey, will replace him.
The Browns were the youngest team in the NFL heading into the season, and now they're even younger.
The Dolphins lost to the Seahawks and Patriots on the road, and are looking to win their first game under new head coach Adam Gase in their home opener.
The Dolphins were so eager to eliminate Taylor that they basically gave him to the Browns on draft day just to move up seven spots in the seventh round. But one man trash is another man treasure, and Taylor is now starting opposite Joe Haden.
Ryan Tannehill, who's coming off one of the best halves in his career in New England last Sunday (81.5 percent passing, 273 yards, 2 TDs, 118.1 rating) will likely target the second round pick early and often. He has two top notch receivers in 2015 first round pick Parker and 2014 second rounder Landry, who leads the NFL with 17 catches. Both players had 100 yard games last week. Meanwhile, Haden could be replaced by Tramon Williams. Taylor will have to be on point against his former team.
"It's always a big game no matter who you are when you either go back to your hometown or you go back to your home team, the team that drafted you," said defensive coordinator Ray Horton. "He knows all the guys inside and out. Obviously, he practiced with the new regime down there, and it will be a big game for him. He has not said this, but I just think human nature is, you know, when you get divorced you want your new spouse to look better than the old spouse so I'm sure he wants to show Miami that he is doing well up here."
Coleman caught five passes for 104 yards, including two touchdowns, vs. Baltimore. He's fourth in the NFL with a 24.7 yard average.
Andrew Hawkins will likely replace him in two receiver sets opposite Terrelle Pryor, but fifth rounder Higgins, who like Coleman plays the X position, and fourth rounder Louis, who backs up Pryor, will have to step and make plays for Kessler.
Last week, second time starter Jimmy Garropolo threw for 3 TDs and 234 yards for New England before being knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. There should be chances against this challenged secondary.
"I've been waiting for it for a long time and unfortunately it had to be my boy getting hurt but I gotta step in and do the job so that's what I'm gonna to do," said Higgins, who said in camp that he was seeking seven TD passes this season.
"I might get four Sunday, so you gotta stay tuned," he said.
Pryor will still start at receiver, but the Browns likely have a package of quarterback plays in place for him to help Kessler out and mix it up. Pryor played quarterback for Hue Jackson in Oakland, and knows this offense as well as anyone.
Pryor is coming off a game in which he made a fine 20 yard catch over Lardarius Webb with seconds remaining last week to give the Browns a chance to win. But he was flagged for a much disputed taunting call that wiped out the catch.
Pryor delivered an impassioned speech this week, saying he would do anything to win. He'll need to hold down the fort until Coleman and Josh Gordon come back.
Shelton is establishing himself as a force in the middle through two weeks. He's living up to Horton's prediction that he can become a Pro Bowl nosetackle. This week, he should dominate first year center Anthony Steen, an undrafted free agent out of Alabama. Steen is replacing Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncy, and Shelton needs to take advantage.
He also won't have to contend with top running back Arian Foster, who's out this game. In his place is second year back Jay Ajayi out of Boise State, who has only 14 yards on five carries. Leading rusher for the Dolphins is QB Ryan Tannehill, with 52 yards on 11 carries and a TD.