Seahawks-Browns Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 19, 2011
The Seattle Seahawks have started to get their offense in gear, and it could be up to backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to keep that going. The Cleveland Browns' offense got off track last week, and the team is looking for starter Colt McCoy to do something to change that. If Tarvaris Jackson is unavailable due to injury, Whitehurst will try to guide the well-rested Seahawks to rare back-to-back road wins Sunday when McCoy and the Browns look to avoid a third consecutive defeat. Since scoring 30 total points during a 1-2 start, Seattle (2-3) has put up 64 in the last two games. That sharp increase can be attributed to a no-huddle offense installed in the second half of a 30-28 loss to Atlanta on Oct. 2 when it scored 21 in the final 25:01. The Seahawks had season highs in total yards (424) and rushing yards (145) in their last game, a 36-25 road victory over the New York Giants on Oct. 9. Whitehurst finished 11 for 19 with a 27-yard fourth-quarter touchdown to leading receiver Doug Baldwin after Jackson suffered a high grade strain of his right pectoral on a third-quarter run. "We got a really good performance from Charlie,'' coach Pete Carroll said. "He did the things we needed to do to keep the game moving and then had enough there to finish it off and get the touchdown drive that we needed to win the football game, so we're really pleased about that.'' Coming off the bye, Whitehurst took all the first-team snaps in Wednesday's practice and it appears he'll make his third career start. His last start was Jan. 2 when he threw for 192 yards and a TD in place of injured starter Matt Hasselbeck in a 16-6 victory over St. Louis that clinched the NFC West title for Seattle. The Seahawks haven't won two straight on the road since Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 2007. The Browns, 27th against the run (129.8 yards per game), might be better suited with Whitehurst under center, but coach Pat Shurmur said the basic game plan will remain similar regardless of who starts. "They've both found a way to be efficient in their style and within their system and they've both actually executed very well since they've gone to some of that no huddle," he said. "It won't be a considerable difference. Tarvaris Jackson is obviously more of a threat as a runner, but I think Whitehurst does a good job of if it's not there being able to push up in the pocket and get yards." The Browns (2-3) aren't looking for McCoy to make huge gains as a scrambling quarterback, but they need him to start delivering the ball with better accuracy. The second-year signal-caller is ranked 27th in completion percentage (55.8) after going 21 for 45 for 215 yards and two TDs in Sunday's 24-17 loss at Oakland. Cleveland posted a season-low 268 yards. "Its fundamentals, it's learning to make all the throws necessary and doing it over and over," Shurmur said. "I don't think this young man lacks any confidence and he's ready to go and get ready to play Seattle." The Browns' 30th-ranked rushing attack (81.6 yards per game) could use a healthy dose of Peyton Hillis on Sunday, but the bruising back is questionable after suffering a strained left hamstring injury in the first quarter last week. Cleveland signed Chris Ogbonnaya, McCoy's former teammate at Texas, off Houston's practice squad this week in case Hillis can't go. The Seahawks' running game isn't much better than Cleveland's - ranked 29th at 83.0 yards per game - but Seattle broke out for a season-high 145 yards against the Giants with Marshawn Lynch piling up a season-best 98 and a TD. Lynch, though, suffered a sprained right ankle on the second play of that game, and it's uncertain how that will affect him this week. Browns cornerback Joe Haden missed last week with a sprained left knee, and he said his status for Sunday is "up in the air.'' "Last week I couldn't do any running. I wasn't ready for it," he said. "But now I'm jogging on it and just doing a whole lot of treatment - eight hours just trying to get it right.'' Seattle is 11-5 in this matchup, but it lost 33-30 in overtime at Cleveland on Nov. 4, 2007, the last time these teams met.
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