The Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions will hook up this weekend in a battle of some importance for both squads. The Lions come in off a bad loss to their rival Green Bay Packers while the Browns come in off a big national TV win against the Buffalo Bills. The Browns suffered their own huge loss with the season long injury to QB and local hero Brian Hoyer. The Browns will again turn to Brandon Weeden with Jason Campbell as his primary backup. Both the Lions and the Browns come in at 3-2 and sitting a top their divisions, both in ties.
There are some injury concerns for both teams that could impact the outcome of the game.
Calvin Johnson – Johnson was a surprise scratch against the Packers. The extent of his injury is unknown but the impact of him being out is clear. Without Johnson the Browns will be able to focus on Reggie Bush and the running game, and attack QB Matt Stafford. Johnson would be shadowed by all world DB Joe Haden, without him Haden will be free to roam. The Browns would most likely put more men in the box and leave 1 on 1 coverage for the Lions and force them to beat them with their 3rd, 4th and 5th receivers as well as their tight ends.
Nate Burelson – Burelson is out due to his broken forearm after his car accident. The Lions being down their top 2 receivers was a huge blow in Green Bay and could be devastating against a more talented Browns defense. The Packers have the 6th rated passing offense for the season but Stafford only threw for 262 yards on his 40 pass attempts with none longer then 25 yards. 22 of Stafford’s pass attempts went to tight ends and running backs which should keep the game closer to the box.
Jabaal Sheard – While not as dominate as Johnson, Sheard is an important part of the Browns defense. Sheard has excelled in the new 3-4 defense at both rushing the passer and stopping the run. His return could allow rookie star Barkevious Mingo into more select plays or allow the Browns to employ 3 OLBs in different sets. He has returned to practice this week. The long layoff may have done him some good.
Billy Winn – Winn, like Sheard, is important to the Browns defense. Winn provides a solid rotation player on the defensive line and has played solid this season. With Winn returning there is less concern about the Browns defensive line tiring out from time on the field. Winn has also returned to practice this week.
Chris Ogbonnaya – Ogbonnaya was taken out in last Thursday’s game with a concussion. He is the lone FB on the roster but has also returned to some RB duties as well with Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey. Thankfully he went through the concussion process quickly and was cleared to return yesterday.
We will keep you up to date on any significant changes to the injury report this week. Expect Johnson, the biggest injury impact, to go right down to kickoff, barring a set back this week.