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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Raiders game.
Browns cornerbacks vs. Raiders wide receivers
Joe Haden, the Browns' top cornerback, has not practiced this week because of a left knee sprain. He's questionable for Sunday's game at Oakland. If he can't go, Dimitri Patterson will start in his place at left cornerback in the Browns' base defense. Rookie Buster Skrine will also see more action in the Browns' sub packages.
Patterson, who struggled last season at times as a starter in Philadelphia, has been effective playing inside for Cleveland.
Speaking of Haden and how Patterson could replace him this week, Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said: "Dimitri's done an outstanding job too and he is a very competitive guy. You never have enough of those guys, you probably never have enough of any kind of guys really. You don't have enough coverage corners so you don't want to lose any of them. Again, we will just have to wait and see what happens with Joe and if he can't go then Dimitri goes out."
Jauron also noted that he's confident in Skrine, a rookie from Chattanooga.
"I'm really happy with his development," Jauron said. "If he's got to go then he will go out there and fight for you. He'll play every down as hard as he can play it and he'll probably cover kicks too and do whatever else you ask him to do. If it goes that way, it will be a great learning experience for him and I think he'll represent himself well."
The Raiders are not afraid to take shots downfield. Only the Panthers' Cam Newton (10.47 yards) and the Ravens' Joe Flacco (10.11) have a longer average pass length than the Raiders' Jason Campbell (10.08).
Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (214 receiving yards the last two games) is one of several Oakland pass catchers who can stretch defenses. Second-year pro Jacoby Ford and rookie Denarius Moore have also shown playmaking ability. Whether Haden plays or not, the Raiders could be compelled to test Browns RCB Sheldon Brown. Defending the deep ball hasn't been his strength. And if Haden doesn't play, the Raiders could also take their chances vs. Patterson.