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Rams-Browns matchup of the day: Friday

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Posted Nov. 11, 2011 @ 12:30 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Rams-Browns game.

Rams wide receivers vs. Browns secondary

WR Brandon Lloyd has been the Rams' go-to target since being acquired in trade from Denver in October. Lloyd has been thrown to 38 times in three games, catching 17 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. Lloyd is exceptionally athletic and has rare body control, and he can make the highlight-reel catch. He's the St. Louis wideout with whom the Browns should be most concerned.

Brandon Gibson (24-295-1 on 42 targets) is the Rams' other first-string wideout, with rookie Austin Pettis (11-90-0 on 15 targets) likely to see increased playing time in the slot after fellow first-year pro Greg Salas suffered a season-ending injury last week.

The Rams' WR corps could get a lift from the return of Mark Clayton, who has missed the first eight games because of knee and Achilles injuries. He established a solid rapport with QB Sam Bradford early last season (42 targets, 23 catches in five games) before suffering the season-ending knee injury. Clayton is a quick possession receiver.

The Browns are allowing the fewest passing yards per game in the NFL (165.3 ypg). The standout of the group is LCB Joe Haden, who has played at a very high level. Any Haden-Lloyd matchups will be fun to watch, considering how skilled each is. Browns RCB Sheldon Brown is tough and experienced but more vulnerable vs. the deep ball than Haden.

The Browns' secondary likely will be without SS T.J. Ward (foot). Also, CB Dimitri Patterson (knee) and S Usama Young (hip) — Cleveland's top two reserve options at their respective positions — have missed practice time, too. A pair of rookies, CB Buster Skrine and S Eric Hagg, could be in line for more playing time on Sunday.

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