St. Louis Rams (1-7) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ETGAMEDATE: 111311
SURFACE: Natural Grass
PREDICTION: Rams 20-15
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns haven't been able to hold up against physical running teams and Rams RB Steven Jackson's bruising style puts their 30th-ranked defense on the spot. Jackson has 359 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the past three games, and St. Louis will force Cleveland to stop the run first with QB Sam Bradford (ankle) still less than full strength. The Browns average 14.9 points per game and have marginal skill position talent. RBs Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton must do better than their combined 38 yards on 18 carries last week to lend a hand to regressing QB Colt McCoy.
FAST FACTS: Browns coach Pat Shurmur was the Rams' offensive coordinator the past two seasons. ... Jackson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry; the Browns average 3.1.
INSIDE THE CAMPSRams
Wide receiver Mark Clayton says he's ready to play Sunday. He'll get that chance after the Rams activated him from the physically unable to perform list Wednesday. The question is how much he will be able to contribute.
"I feel good," Clayton said. "I feel really the best I've felt in the last three weeks. My body's getting adjusted to everything and balancing itself out. The Achilles is getting a lot better. I've been able to really be explosive off of that side now."
Clayton began experiencing soreness in his left Achilles, the same leg that underwent knee surgery last year, on his second or third day of practice recently. At one point, Clayton said, he couldn't lift the back of his foot off the ground without feeling pain.
Now he feels good and hopes to be able to contribute wherever the coaches want him although he acknowledges being at about 90 percent healthy. He's also learned every position, so if slot work is where the coaches want him, he's game.
He said, "I've had to kind of bounce around through positions ... just kind of filling in for guys as we went through practice. So I've got a decent feel for all the positions really. I'll be ready.
"I'm comfortable wherever," he said. "I'm ready to play. I know the coaches understand the situation. I don't know the extent or the where or when, but I'm ready."
Expanding on the Achilles problem, he said it "was brutal" at first. "I never had anything like that. But the past couple weeks I've been able to get hold of it, calm it down. Last week was really good. This week, we're trying to build on it."
Coach Steve Spagnuolo wouldn't commit to how much Clayton will play, even though it seems natural to expect him to possibly fill the spot vacated by Greg Salas, who is on injured reserve. Austin Pettis will also see significant time in Salas' role.
Said Spagnuolo, "We're still talking about a guy who didn't go through training camp, hadn't been in a game in a long time, so we'll have to slowly ease him in."
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels concurred. He said, "He's made some really good plays already this week. I think the big thing with Mark is he didn't have training camp, he didn't have preseason games, so we're going to have to be smart with him Sunday in terms of overall, is it this many, is it that many? So we've got to figure that out as we go, but you certainly can't overload him. Any player coming off an injury and coming off an opportunity to maybe just start getting back into the flow, you've got to be careful and work them back into it slowly."
Quarterback Sam Bradford is looking forward to Clayton's return.
Said Bradford, "Especially last week after losing Salas, we need someone to come in and step up. It's just great timing that Mark is finally getting healthy and hopefully will be on the field with us this Sunday."
The Browns' struggling offense is likely to be without starting wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for what amounts to the third straight game Sunday when the Browns host the Rams.
Massaquoi has not practiced this week. He was sent home to rest Thursday morning as he was Wednesday morning and Monday. He did not play against the 49ers after being concussed the week before against the Seahawks and felt woozy playing against the Texans last Sunday. He pulled himself out of the game in Houston near the end of the third quarter. He was targeted only once and did not catch the football.
"He didn't have any specific episode in the game to make him what we consider worse," coach Pat Shurmur said. "He came in this morning and he had some symptoms related to his concussion so we sent him home. That's where he is."
Massaquoi is fourth on the Browns with 18 catches, and has two touchdown catches.
The Browns are already without running backs Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf) because of injuries. Brian Robiskie, a starting receiver at the beginning of the season, was cut last week.
The situation leaves Josh Cribbs and Greg Little as the starting wide receivers and Chris Ogbonnaya as the starting running back. Ogbonnaya is eager for the next game after fumbling on the Browns' first offensive play last week.
The Browns have scored 119 points this season - third fewest in the league. The Rams, though, have scored only 100 points.
"I'm very shocked," Cribbs said. "At the same time, you kind of roll with the punches and with the injuries and Mohamed being out.
"You don't expect to turn the ball over early and we're going to play some good football teams that we can't do that again. We dug a hole for ourselves early on in a lot of games. So I am shocked that we allowed ourselves to have to come out of such a deficit, but we can't go anywhere but up."
The Browns are still looking for their first touchdown of the first quarter. They have scored six points on two field goals by Phil Dawson.
--C Jason Brown has started 84 consecutive games, but that streak will end Sunday when Tony Wragge gets the start. Brown was benched even though he has graded out as the team's second-best offensive lineman Sunday.
--C Tony Wragge, who was signed by the Rams after being released in the cutdown to 53 players by the 49ers, will start Sunday against Cleveland, replacing Jason Brown.
--QB Sam Bradford shared first-unit reps with A.J. Feeley Thursday, but will start against Cleveland unless there is a surprising setback. Said coach Steve Spagnuolo, "We try not to give them all to him because the more you put on him, then you're going backwards a little bit. I think he's progressing pretty good. He's a tough guy."
--DT Darell Scott was cleared for contact Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion Oct. 23 against Dallas. It's possible he will play Sunday against Cleveland.
--WR Danario Alexander (hamstring) did not practice Thursday, and is not expected to play Sunday against Cleveland.
--TE Lance Kendricks (foot) did not practice Thursday, and is not expected to play Sunday against Cleveland.
--LB Josh Hull (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.
--LB Bryan Kehl (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.
--DE Eugene Sims (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.
--S T.J. Ward is still wearing a cast on his right foot. He has not been ruled out for Sunday, but coach Pat Shurmur said it is unlikely Ward will play.
--S Eric Hagg could replace T.J. Ward as the starter. The seventh-round draft pick from Nebraska underwent arthroscopic surgery in August and was on the inactive list the first half of the season.
--K Phil Dawson was excused from practice Thursday because of migraine headaches.
--S Usama Young is still bothered by a sore hip and did not practice Thursday. He hopes to play against the Rams.
--OT Tony Pashos remains the starting right tackle. He is bothered by a sore ankle and sore knee.