After not playing a football game in 14 days, the Cleveland Browns are ready to get back on the field on Monday night when they look for the season sweep of their AFC North division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. After having to deal with all the media hoopla surrounding the announcement of Johnny Manziel first being named the starting quarterback followed by the demotion to third string because he lied to the coaching staff about a video he was in last weekend, the Browns staff and players are ready to get to playing football and not worry about any extracurricular activity.
We have a job to do. I have a job to do,” offensive lineman John Greco said. I have to move forward this week and try to get a win on Monday night.”
Monday marks the first time in six years that the Browns will play on Monday Night Football. Cleveland’s last appearance was on November 16, 2009 at home against the Ravens. Baltimore shut out the Browns 16-0 that night. The Browns hope for a different result this time around.
“It is pretty cool. I think it is pretty cool for Cleveland, too,” offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said. “They have a Monday night home game. I wish we were doing a little better right now. It is pretty cool. I think a lot of the guys in the NFL, your peers watch that. It will be cool to get out there as a team and try to do as much as we can on Monday night to prove that the Browns are trying to save their season a little bit.”
“It’s good. It’s a great experience. It’s fun,” tight end Gary Barnidge said. “It’s going to be on national television. Everyone is going to be watching. It’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”
Barnidge will look for a repeat performance from the first meeting against the Ravens in Baltimore. Barnidge caught eight passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in the 33-30 overtime victory. The touchdown was one of the best catches of the season to date. Barnidge trapped the ball with his legs while on the ground and some how got the ball into his arms without the ball hitting the ground. It will be interesting to see if Barnidge will find the end zone in front of a national prime time audience, but he knows it will be an exciting night for the city of Cleveland,
“Everybody will be a little more amped about it, but it’s still a National Football League game,” Barnidge said. “It doesn’t matter what day it is, you’re still playing in the NFL so everybody’s going to be excited about it no matter what.”
Josh McCown will make his first start in four weeks on Monday night. McCown missed the Browns last two games in Cincinnati and in Pittsburgh because of shoulder and rib injuries. McCown had a career day against the Ravens in the first meeting. McCown threw for a Browns regular season record 457 yards in week five. McCown doesn’t expect to match those numbers on Monday night, but he hopes to put up solid numbers and help lead his team to a sweep against a division rival.
“I don’t know if I would go into the game trying to break the record, but it would be cool to get a win,” McCown said. “When you are a 2-8 team, it would be great to get a win in front of the home crowd and on Monday night. That is all I would care about. That is the thing as you go through the bye and you think through things and assess where you are, and 2-8 is obviously not where any of us wanted to be. You want to get a win for our team, for the guys in the locker room and for the fans and the people that support us. The city has been awesome in how they support us. We need to put a good product out there and win the football game. That is my focus. If it means breaking a record, great. If it means watching Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) or (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) break a rushing record, that would be awesome, too. All I want to do is win the game.”
“Obviously, I thought Josh played very, very well against the Ravens,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. The Ravens are a very good defense. I know from an offensive standpoint they are beat up a little bit, but they have everyone healthy on defense. We are going to have our hands full again with these guys. I like our plan. We should play with a lot of confidence on Monday night at home in front of our own crowd. I expect Josh and the other 10 guys to play well.”
The Browns will face a very banged up Ravens team on Monday night. Baltimore will be without quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett. Both suffered season ending injuries in last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams. Two of Baltimore’s team leaders are also out in wide receiver Steve Smith Senior and linebacker Terrell Suggs. The Ravens have 15 players on season ending injured reserve. Even with a record of 3-7, the Browns know they will be facing a very hungry Ravens team looking to avenge the loss back in week five.
Cleveland is currently a one point favorite over Baltimore. The Browns will wear their brown jerseys with orange pants for the game. Monday night begins a stretch of three consecutive home games for the Browns.