Ngata: How can Ravens defense improve?
Key matchups to watch, Browns at Ravens
1. Browns RB Trent Richardson vs. Ravens front seven.
The Ravens weren’t that good against the run last season, but believe they have improved with the offseason additions of Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, and Brandon Williams. However, Williams (toe injury) won’t play, and either will defensive Arthur Jones (heart). Richardson is a powerful runner who sheds arm tackles, and the Ravens had tackling issues last week. If the Ravens gang tackle Richardson and contain him, the Browns will struggle to move the football. But in his last game against the Ravens, Richardson went for 105 yards on 25 carries. A big game from Richardson gives the Browns their best chance to pull off an upset.
2. Browns RT Mitchell Schwartz vs. Ravens LB Elvis Dumervil
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden was sacked six times in Week 1, and was hit 16 times. Some of that was due to Schwartz, who struggled to block Cameron Wake of the Dolphins. Dumervil is another elite pass rusher who figures to give Schwartz problems. The Browns have All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, so the right side is where the Ravens’ pass rush will look to do business. At times, the Ravens could flip flop outside linebackers, giving Terrell Suggs a chance to attack Schwartz. Another bad game by Schwartz could mean another sore afternoon for Weeden.
3. Browns LB’s Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard, vs. Ravens tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie.
Kruger is stoked to face his former teammates, and to sack Joe Flacco. Oher sprained his ankle against the Broncos last week, and though he plans to play, Oher may not be 100 percent. Flacco was sacked three times in Denver, and Kruger and Sheard have the talent to put consistent pressure on Flacco consistently.
4. Browns CB Joe Haden vs. Ravens WR Torrey Smith
They are friends off the field, but Hade and Smith will battle Sunday. If Haden can neutralize Smith, it will put more pressure on the other Ravens’ receivers. “It’s always fun to go against someone you know,” Smith said. “He’s one of the best corners in the league.
5. Browns DT Phil Taylor vs. Ravens C Gino Gradkowski
Taylor is one of the league’s better interior linemen, and Gradkowski is a young player. The Ravens want to establish their running game Sunday. But if Taylor has his way up front, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce may have trouble finding inside running lanes.