Here's the second of five matchups to watch in Sunday's Browns-Colts game:
Cleveland's pass rush vs. Indianapolis' pass protection
One major positive from the Browns' season-opening loss to Cincinnati: they generated a good deal of pass-rush pressure, and in a variety of ways. Cleveland notched seven QB hits, including four sacks. MLB D'Qwell Jackson had two sacks — one on a blitz, the other on account of good pursuit by him after the Browns' coverage left no one open for Bengals QB Bruce Gradkowski.
The Colts are inexperienced at offensive tackle. They start a rookie, Anthony Castonzo, at left tackle, and second-year ORT Jeff Linkenbach has two pro starts at the position. The Texans notched three sacks Sunday in their rout of the Colts, although none could be pinned directly on the tackles.
Texans OLB Mario Williams twice beat TE Dallas Clark for sacks, so it will be interesting to see how Clark fares if he has to block either DLE Jayme Mitchell or DRE Jabaal Sheard on Sunday. Sheard and Mitchell combined for seven tackles Sunday — three for loss — although neither recorded a sack or a QB hit.
On the Texans' other sack, DRE Antonio Smith beat OLG Joe Reitz — making his first career start — and sacked Colts QB Kerry Collins, forcing a fumble recovered by Texans NT Shaun Cody. At the other interior spots, the Colts have veterans Jeff Saturday at center and Ryan Diem at right guard. Diem was formerly the starting right tackle.
The Browns have a solid DT tandem in rookie Phil Taylor and veteran Ahtyba Rubin. Taylor (6-3, 335) is strong and quick. He's sudden enough to get to the passer even on a quick throw as he did Sunday, when he hit QB Andy Dalton on a third down late in the first half. Dalton would depart with a wrist injury. Rubin (6-2, 330), who reportedly agreed to a contract extension Sunday, has an outstanding motor.
Collins' strong arm, height, strength and experience are his greatest assets if the pocket collapses, but he's most effective operating in the pocket. The Browns will work to limit the 6-5, 247-pound Collins' time in the pocket and hamper his ability to set his feet and deliver the strong, accurate throws he can make if he gets the time he needs.