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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Colts game.
Browns RS Joshua Cribbs vs. Colts' special-teams units
One of the NFL's top returners, Cribbs struggled last season. Teams successfully schemed to stop him, and he battled injuries, too.
However, he started the 2011 campaign looking like the blue-chip returner he is. Cribbs had a 51-yard kickoff return and a 21-yard punt return vs. Cincinnati; both were longer than any of his returns of either kind in 2010.
Power, quickness and vision are among Cribbs' strengths. He is one of the game's stronger returners, and if he gets a seam, he can run away from the defense. Once a star quarterback at Kent State known for his rushing ability, Cribbs has a wonderful feel for the game.
Cribbs poses a big challenge for the Colts' return units, which did not play well in Week One. Most notably, Indianapolis surrendered a 79-yard punt return TD to the Texans' Jacoby Jones late in the first half. Jones started right, then cut left and found all the running room he needed to sprint away from his Colt pursuers. Indianapolis also yielded a 46-yard kickoff return to Danieal Manning on the game's opening play.
P Pat McAfee handles kickoffs and punts for the Colts. He recorded one touchback out of two kickoffs on Sunday, and Manning's return came from six yards deep in the endzone. Ideally for the Colts, McAfee will power the ball out of the endzone on kickoffs and force fair catches or other non-returns on punts. If that doesn't happen, a good secondary outcome would be a kick or punt that somehow disrupts Cribbs' rhythm. After that, it's on the Colts' coverage units to stop one of the game's elite special-teams aces.