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Browns-Bengals Pregame Update: WR Terrelle Pryor active; 3 points of interest; key numbers; the prediction

CINCINNATI — The Browns will have their biggest offensive weapon today as they try to upset the Cincinnati Bengals and bring home their first win of the season.
Receiver Terrelle Pryor is active after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a right hamstring injury. He was listed as questionable on the injury report, worked out before the game and was cleared. He’s expected to start.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium.
Pryor leads the Browns (0-6) with 33 catches, 413 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
He has a bit of a history with the Bengals (2-4). He spent part of the 2015 offseason with them before being cut in June and claimed off waivers by the Browns. That’s when he decided to make the switch from quarterback to receiver.
The Browns won’t have No. 1 cornerback Joe Haden, who’s inactive for the second straight week with a groin injury. He’s missed three of the past five games.
Veteran Tramon Williams will replace Haden in the starting lineup. Williams returned last week after missing two games with a shoulder injury.
The other Browns inactives are: quarterback Josh McCown (broken left collarbone), receiver Corey Coleman (broken hand), tight end Seth DeValve (knee), defensive back Marcus Burley (hamstring), outside linebacker Corey Lemonier and fullback Dan Vitale.
Defensive end Xavier Cooper (shoulder) and tight end Randall Telfer (ankle) are back after missing time and being listed as questionable. Cooper missed one game and Telfer two.
For the Bengals, Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert (ankle/back) will play for the first time this season. The Browns have been dreadful covering tight ends this season.
Inactive for the Bengals are: quarterback Jeff Driskel, receiver Cody Core, cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell, Chykie Brown and Chris Lewis-Harris, guard Christian Westerman and defensive tackle DeShawn Williams.
(Three points of interest in today’s game)
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton had his best season in 2015 with Hue Jackson as his coordinator, posting a 106.2 rating. Then Jackson handpicked rookie Cody Kessler in his first draft with the Browns. Jackson didn’t want to compare the quarterbacks but others would, with Dalton considered a fair projection for Kessler based on size, arm strength and athleticism, although Dalton has the edge in all three categories.
“Cody has a great command of the game,” said receiver Andrew Hawkins, who played with Dalton for three seasons. “For such a young guy, that is kind of rare. There was a lot of question marks going in, but he thrives once he is kind of running the show, and that is how Andy Dalton was.”
Dalton was a second-round pick in 2011 and has always been thought of as a distant third to division rivals Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, but he’s led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his five seasons. He’s off to another strong start — 67.4 completion percentage, 1,757 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, 97.2 rating – and needs a win over his former mentor with the Bengals 2-4.
“Andy is a pro that has been doing it for a long time,” Jackson said. “I think we all know Andy is one of the better quarterbacks in this league in my opinion. Cody is working to get there. He has to do it enough over time before he can ever be considered in a conversation with anybody like that, but what he is doing right now as a young player for our football team is as good as I have seen.”
Kessler threw for a career-high 336 yards against Tennessee last week but is desperate for his first win. His focus this week is getting the ball out of his hand quicker to avoid sacks and hits. He’ll need to be at his best for the Browns to have any chance at an upset.
“Cody, he’s a beast,” rookie receiver Ricardo Louis said. “He got thrown in the fire, but he just ran with it. He has the heart of a lion.”
The Cincinnati defensive line has played together for years. The Cleveland offensive line will start its second straight game together. Advantage: Bengals.
“There’s one thing with these guys, it’s continuity,” right guard John Greco said. “Every year they have the same guys. So they’ve been playing together for a long time and they’re good.”
The line is the strength of the Bengals defense, with tall, imposing ends Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap and quick, powerful tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko.
“It’s an experienced line, it’s multiple Pro Bowlers year in and year out,” Greco said. “This is a big week for us, a big test.”
The Browns counter with a reshuffled offensive line that allowed six sacks last week. Center Cameron Erving struggled physically and mentally after missing three weeks with a bruised lung, as he failed to pick up the Titans’ stunts, leading to easy sacks of Kessler. The Browns hope another week elevates the play of Erving and the chemistry of the front five that has Alvin Bailey at left guard in place of Joel Bitonio, who’s out for the year.
“It does create a different challenge when you have different faces across each position because the offensive line requires a degree of coordination that probably no other position group on an NFL team requires,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “You have to kind of kick your coordination into overdrive to be able to try to get yourself and get all five guys on the same page for Sundays.”
Receiver Terrelle Pryor is a gamer, so he will do everything possible to suit up. But even if he does play, he won’t be 100 percent after injuring his hamstring last week and missing most of the practice week. It’s a good thing the Browns drafted four rookie wideouts.
First-rounder Corey Coleman is still out with a broken hand, but Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton are healthy and will take on increased roles even if Pryor plays. Louis has come on in the four weeks without Coleman with 13 catches and 146 yards, but Higgins (one catch) and Payton (none) are still trying to find their footing. Now would be a good time.
“It definitely opens a lot more opportunities for each and every one of us that’s out there,” Louis said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play or not, but it just means that we’re going to have to step up and make more plays to show what we can really do.”
Pryor is in line for a contract extension as he approaches free agency and the team could learn his true value if he can’t play or is severely limited. In his first full season at receiver, he’s developed into one of the team’s best and most indispensable players, leading the way with 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
“Terrelle is a great leader,” Higgins said. “He does everything at a high level. He demands a lot out of us. I’ve got some big shoes to fill, so I’ll be ready for it and I’m the man for the job.”
Road games for the Browns in the first seven weeks. The brutal stretch concludes today.
Quarterbacks who’ve thrown passes for the Browns this year. Andy Dalton has thrown every pass for the Bengals.
Years as Bengals coach for Marvin Lewis. The Browns have had seven coaches since he took over in 2003.
Cincinnati’s advantage in the Battle of Ohio, its biggest in the history of the rivalry.
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green spoil Hue Jackson's return to Cincinnati. Bengals 27, Browns 17.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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