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Delhomme faces familiar foe

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Delhomme faces familiar foe

Browns get veteran QB back today vs. Falcons

October 10, 2010 - By MIKE McLAIN Tribune Chronicle

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CLEVELAND - Jake Delhomme's return to the Browns' lineup couldn't have been timed better.

Delhomme missed the last three games with a sprained right ankle. Indications are that he will start at quarterback today against the Atlanta Falcons, an opponent he's familiar with from his time with the Carolina Panthers.

Delhomme has faced the Falcons 12 times and has a 6-6 record. He's thrown 16 touchdown passes and has been intercepted eight times.

"This is a new (Atlanta) team with some new players, but it might help somewhat," Delhomme said of knowing the Falcons well. "Hopefully we've started to establish our identity of who we are and what we can be."

The Browns' identity on offense has been simple - give the football to running back Peyton Hillis. With Jerome Harrison virtually lost in the game plans, Hillis has been a workhorse. He has 322 yards and four touchdowns on 66 carries and is averaging an outstanding 4.9 yards per rush.

Hillis showed up on the injury report late this week with a thigh injury. He's listed as questionable, but it's likely he'll be able to play.

The Falcons, who have a physical defense, are allowing 96 rushing yards a game. Hillis, however, has shown the ability to run well against strong defenses. He had 144 yards two weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens.

"Peyton was running well, he was running with power, he was getting downhill on those guys and you could see it," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said of Hillis' 102-yard effort last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. "I just kept feeding him the football."

Daboll didn't rule out giving Harrison some work today. That might be a necessity because of the physical pounding Hillis has been absorbing. Sooner or later he's going to need help.

"I think Jerome needs to be ready to go at any point in the game," Daboll said. "Whether it's the first play, the third play, consecutive plays, it was just a fact of Peyton was running well (against the Bengals), and I felt giving him the ball was going to be a good thing that game."

The Falcons (3-1) have more than a strong defense. The offense, in some ways, mirrors the Browns' offense because of the strong running of Michael Turner. Jason Snelling is also getting plenty of carries on an offense that's averaging 144.8 rushing yards a game.

It was mentioned this week that defending Turner is like defending former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.

"It's been awhile since I've defended Jerome," coach Eric Mangini said. "My first exposure to Michael Turner was when he was in San Diego and he was quite a bit different than defending LaDainian Tomlinson. He has a very good center of gravity, he's got excellent balance and he's faster than you think. If you look at his size, you may underestimate his speed, but he's got quite a few long plays."

Another challenge for the Browns' defense will be trying to keep quarterback Matt Ryan under control. Ryan likes to get the ball to receiver Roddy White and ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez.

"Matt Ryan is a (heck) of a quarterback," Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "They move all over the place and that makes them really good. Obviously, the play action with Burner (Michael) Turner back there, you have got to honor that. This Roddy White has really turned into a special guy at wide receiver. They have a lot of really good weapons."

Ryan should be accustomed to developing plans against talented quarterbacks. He faced Joe Flacco of the Ravens and Carson Palmer of the Bengals the last two weeks.

"In this league, there are no easy games," Ryan said. "It just seems that the way the schedule worked out, it's like a Pro Bowl quarterback every week. We know we have to play better this week. We're going to. We've got some good things up and ready to go that are going to help us out in the secondary."

The Browns will need everything clicking to win today.


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