A converted college quarterback turned return man will be dangerous on Sunday. I'm not talking about Brad Smith right now. I'm talking about Cleveland's Josh Cribbs, a sixth year man from Kent State.
Cribbs is as dangerous of a return man on kickoffs and punts as can be found in the game. He has 8 career kickoff return touchdowns and a pair of punt returns for scores. My belief is a place kicker's most important job is kicking field goals and extra points. Those affect the score. Field position is a bonus. This is one of the few weeks where I am concerned about Nick Folk's relatively below average kickoff leg. I think Smith might have to play a big role this week on kickoff coverage. He always seems to be the guy filling the lane as the last line of defense when it looks like everybody else has missed the returner. He's also a sure tackler.
A pair of guys will need to elevate their respective games on punts. Steve Weatherford has shown a huge leg this year. There are times where he has outkicked his coverage. It will be of the utmost importance for him to not do that this week. He needs to focus on hang time, even if it mean sacrificing a few yards on distance.
Marquice Cole will also have a huge role. He has stepped into the primary gunner role left vacant when Wallace Wright went to Carolina. He has been very good utilizing his blazing speed to beat his blocker down the field. He needs to get in Cribbs' face and force fair catches. Cole is out Sunday with a hamstring injury. Smith may have to step up on the punt team now also.
The Browns don't have a big play passing game, but they can make up for that if Cribbs breaks a few big returns.