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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a closer look at a matchup to watch in Sunday's Bengals-Browns game:
Bengals special-teams coverage units vs. Browns RS Joshua Cribbs
Through three games, Cribbs, who has more kickoff-return TDs (eight) than any other player in NFL history, is averaging just 18.7 yards on kickoffs. His longest return on the season is a paltry 24 yards. Cribbs averaged 27.5 yards on kickoffs a season ago, returning three for TDs. Cribbs and the Browns' special-teams blockers also haven't gotten much going on punt returns, either. He has accumulated just 34 yards on five returns, with a long of 15 yards.
"We've just got to turn that back into what it should be, which is a weapon," Browns head coach Eric Mangini said of the return game Monday.
The Bengals, who surrendered a 97-yard kickoff-return TD to the Patriots' Brandon Tate in Week One, have allowed 27.4 yards on average on nine other opponent kickoff returns this season. They have been solid on punts, limiting opponents to 5.8 yards on average (six returns).
Keep an eye on how Cincinnati's coverage units tackle vs. Cribbs. Bengals special-teams coach Darrin Simmons told PFW last week that the Bengals missed six total tackles on kickoffs and punts in the first two games of the season.