CLEVELAND - The Browns come off their bye week and head to Cowboys Stadium to face the Cowboys. The Browns will be making their first ever trip to the new Cowboys Stadium.
The Browns hold a 15-11 advantage in the series against the boys with stars on their helmets. The Browns last victory on the road in Dallas was back on Dec. 10, 1994.
The Browns are hoping a healthy squad and the bye week to heal will help them over the final seven games. One source of concern is cornerback Joe Haden who has missed practice time this week with an oblique injury and remains questionable for the orange helmets. The Browns do continue to get players back, outside of a questionable Haden and Dimitri Patterson, who will miss the game with an ankle injury, the team is pretty healthy.
Ahtyba Rubin returned to the defense this week and is anxious to see action along side Phil Taylor for the first time this season. That gives the Browns depth up front and a deep rotation for the defensive line for the first time this year.
Rubin on being reunited with Phil Taylor: "It's good, because if I'm not making plays, he's running and hustling and getting to the ball and when we are in there, we get the job done."
Taylor added: "When we are at practice we know "Rube" is going to go 100% and we try to match that".
The Browns are hoping to match that Sunday. The Cowboys may or may not get running back DeMarco Murray back this week. Murray, who has been bothered by a sore foot has not practiced at all this week and remains a question mark. Without a running game, the Browns are hoping to put plenty of pressure on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who leads the league with 13 interceptions.
The Cowboys can put up some points in a hurry with the league ninth best offense and the dangerous Dez Bryant to stretch the Browns secondary.
For the Browns offensively they have to continue to run the football successfully to take the pressure off Brandon Weeden. Weeden is third among NFL rookies with 2,088 passing yards but his 12 interceptions (second in the NFL) have hurt him.
A point that was brought up this week in Berea, to which Pat Shurmur said, "he has to make better decisions" Weeden echoed those thoughts saying he knows he has not played that well lately and need to do a better job of protecting the football.
Trent Richardson has already put together back to back one yard rushing games and has already tied the teams rookie record with three one yard games. Richardson faces a Dallas defense that ranks among the top 10 in the league overall. The Dallas linebackers are fast and move extremely well to the football. It doesn't hurt to have an all-world defensive end like DeMarcus Ware in front of you to pressure the quarterback. Ware will be a huge test for the Browns offensive line that has been very solid this year. Ware likes to line up to the open side so both Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz will see there fair share.
This game has the potential to be a very low scoring game if it comes down to field goals you can be sure the Browns with Texas native Phil Dawson have the edge there. Dawson is a perfect 17 for 17 this season and has connected on 23 straight kicks, the longest current streak in the NFL.
How much will the bye week help the Browns? That is a question we will have answered by 4 p.m. Sunday. This game features two coaches on the hot seat, Shurmur and Jason Garrett, a Cleveland native, one seat gets that much hotter after this one.