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Browns-Colts matchup of the day: Friday

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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening

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Posted Sept. 16, 2011 @ 12:56 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Colts game:

Browns secondary vs. Colts receivers

The primary concerns for Cleveland's secondary Sunday will be combating WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark. A stout pass rush would be a boost to both efforts, as it could force the Colts to use Clark, who surrendered a pair of sacks a week ago in the 34-7 loss at Houston, more as a blocker than Indianapolis might prefer. Clark, who runs very well, will test the Browns' defensive backs and linebackers whether he's lined up on the line, in the slot or outside. He was targeted five times in the season opener, catching four passes for 39 yards.

Wayne was the Colts' best player in Week One, catching seven passes for 106 yards and a touchdown: a wonderful six-yard reception in the back of the endzone in which he leaped, caught the ball with his right hand, only briefly using the left hand to secure the reception, and tapped his right foot, then his left foot (and his right foot again, for good measure) to earn the Colts' first (and only) points of the game. He unquestionably remains the Colts' top all-around receiver.

Pierre Garcon, who has the best speed of the Colts' wideouts, lacks consistency but has had some big games. Austin Collie was very effective in the slot a season ago but was targeted just three times and had zero catches in the opener.

Browns LCB Joe Haden was outstanding in the season opener, defending five passes and shutting down Bengals rookie WR A.J. Green. While Green did catch what turned out to be the game-winning TD pass, he was uncovered on a complete defensive breakdown by Cleveland, so it's hard to pin the score completely on Haden. The Browns' 2010 first-round pick will be a candidate to make his first-ever Pro Bowl if he plays at the level he did last week. It will be a real treat if he's frequently matched up with Wayne, considering how well both played in Week One.

RCB Sheldon Brown isn't as fast as Haden but he's tough and experienced. Dimitri Patterson, a serviceable nickel cornerback, will cover the slot.

The Browns are solid at safety, with SS T.J. Ward, a thumper vs. the run, and Mike Adams and Usama Young both seeing time at free safety. MLB D'Qwell Jackson is the best of the Browns' starters at his position in coverage.

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