Reporting Matt Loede
BEREA, OH (92.3 The Fan) – HADEN READY: Browns starting CB Joe Haden practiced with the team again on Friday, and by all accounts should be a starter and ready to go vs the Steelers Sunday.
Haden missed last Sunday’s game vs the Cowboys in Dallas with a strained abdominal muscle. His replacement, Buster Skrine, wasn’t very good in his place, committing key penalties and then near the end of the game suffering a concussion.
“He practiced all the way through the week and didn’t miss any time. He’s fine,” coach Pat Shurmur said.
With Haden back, he likely will line up against speedy Steelers WR Mike Wallace, as Steelers WR Antonio Brown remains iffy at best to play with an ankle injury.
As for Skrine, he stated that he was fine on Friday, and that he has passed all the concussion tests and should be ready to backup Haden.
STILL A FORCE: The Steelers defense in 2012 remains one of the best in the NFL, and enters Sunday’s affair with the Browns as the number one defense in the NFL.
The Steelers are first in the league allowing 259.1 yards a game, and fifth at 19.0 points given up per contest.
So how do they do it?
“I think the way they are built, it starts with their defensive coordinator who has been there forever (Dick LeBeau), and there core group of guys, (Lawrence) Timmons, (Ryan) Clark, (Casey) Hampton in the middle,” Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi said.
The Steelers pass defense is anchored by veteran CB Ike Taylor, while their two linebackers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, are still two of the more fierce LB’s in the league.
IS IT A RIVALRY?: Every time the Steelers and Browns play as of late, people talk about if the game is still a “rivalry.”
The Steelers have won 22 of 24 against the Browns and outscored them 96-31 during a four-game winning streak in the series.
They have dominated the Browns for the past 20 years, starting with the hiring of Bill Cowher for the Steelers back in the 1992 season.
Since then, the Steelers have beaten the Browns 31 of 36 times, with two playoff wins. Despite all that, Browns fans always are ready for Steelers week in Cleveland.
“Even through the lockout (in 2011) guys were talking about how much they hate Pittsburgh,” Browns DL Jabal Sheard said. “Playing the game you got a much better feel for it.”
The Browns have not swept the Steelers since the 1988 season.