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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
With the Browns falling below .500 after a 20-10 loss at San Francisco on Sunday, we assess whose stock is rising — and falling:
RB Chris Ogbonnaya — He was the last man standing at running back with Montario Hardesty suffering a calf injury early in Sunday's game and Peyton Hillis (hamstring) inactive. Ogbonnaya rushed 11 times for 37 yards and caught five passes for 24 yards. Those are hardly numbers to be excited about, but if Hillis and Hardesty can't go in Week Nine at Houston, Ogbonnaya likely will get his first NFL start.
WR Joshua Cribbs — The Browns' special-teams ace hauled in his second TD of the season, a 45-yarder that cut San Francisco's lead to 17-10.
WR Jordan Norwood — Targeted two times in the first six games, Norwood was a much bigger part of the offense Sunday, catching five passes for 32 yards. QB Colt McCoy threw his way six times.
Browns tight ends — Benjamin Watson, Alex Smith and Evan Moore combined for six catches for 101 yards. Every pass McCoy threw to a tight end was caught.
DT Ahtyba Rubin — The active interior lineman notched eight tackles.
MLB D'Qwell Jackson — Notched 10 tackles, five for loss. However, he committed a costly facemask penalty in the fourth quarter.
Special teams — PK Phil Dawson drilled a 52-yard field goal. P Brad Maynard had four punts downed inside the 20. The coverage units fared OK. After the previous two games, this was a nice performance for a group that needed to take a step forward.
The front office's and coaching staff's skill-position talent decisions — The Browns didn't add any WR help in free agency, and the lack of a No. 1 wideout looms large. In the Browns' defense at running back, they have had some bad injury luck — Brandon Jackson, whom they signed from Green Bay in free agency, is out for the season with turf toe, and Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf) have gotten hurt. Nevertheless, the Browns are now very thin at running back. More consideration may need to be given to adding to these positions in the offseason. Keeping four running backs like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh do might be something the coaches and personnel staff considers going forward, given the rigors of the position. The Browns were thin at running back last season and got away with it, but that hasn't been the case this season.
WR Greg Little — His stat line Sunday: 11 targets, four catches, 28 yards. No Browns pass catcher was targeted more by McCoy, making Little's struggles even more glaring.
The offense in the first quarter — Cleveland is stuck on three first-quarter points through seven games, having been outscored 44-3 in the opening period. The slow starts for the offense are a persistent and alarming problem.
RB Montario Hardesty — He has not staked a strong claim to the starting job with Hillis hobbled. Hardesty produced a workmanlike effort vs. Seattle in Week Seven and left Sunday's game early with a calf injury.
RS Joshua Cribbs — He hasn't made a major impact since the first two games of the season in this area.
The run defense — The 49ers racked up 174 yards on 39 carries. San Francisco's first field goal of the game capped an 11-play, 88-yard drive propelled by a 24-yard rush from Frank Gore and a 26-yard gain from Kendall Hunter on back-to-back plays. On both plays, the Browns missed opportunities to limit the ballcarriers to shorter gains as the Niners rapidly moved from their own 2-yard line to the Browns' 48.