Browns-Saints matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Oct. 22, 2010 @ 10:18 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Here's a closer look at a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Saints game.

Saints pass rush vs. Browns pass protection

Here are two numbers to ponder as we begin: nine and five. Nine is the number of hits Steelers defenders were credited with against Browns QB Colt McCoy last week, according to NFL statistics, and five is the number of times McCoy was sacked. 

With McCoy looking likely to start once again, how the Browns protect McCoy — and how he handles pass-rush pressure — is something to keep an eye on. The Steelers came after McCoy with the blitz and seemed to have a good handle on Cleveland's snap count at times, considering the jump some of their rushers were getting.

The Saints have 11 sacks, with DT Sedrick Ellis leading the team with three. The Browns are a little unsettled along the interior offensive line. A new starter is likely to be at right guard with Floyd Womack expected to move to right tackle now that Tony Pashos (ankle) is out for the season and considering that John St. Clair has missed Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury that's kept him out the past three games. Billy Yates and rookie Shawn Lauvao are the top candidates to play right guard. Yates has 11 career starts. Lauvao has never played in an NFL game. 

It will be interesting to see what Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has in store for McCoy. Will the Saints be aggressive? Note that New Orleans has some injury concerns at cornerback — and Cleveland could be down two wide receivers if Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs are ruled out after each suffered a concussion in Week Six. 

A rookie quarterback. Injury issues for both teams in key areas in the passing game and pass defense. You might want to keep your eye out for some mistakes.