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Opponent Breakdown: Cleveland Browns

A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon at the Cleveland Browns:


REVOLVING DOOR:** The Browns have had 26 starting quarterbacks since their franchise resurrection in 1999, including three this season. They've used six quarterbacks overall in 10 games.

Rookie Cody Kessler (third round, USC) made his seventh start on Nov. 10 at Baltimore (a 28-7 loss to the Ravens). Kessler was replaced for two snaps in the first half by rookie Kevin Hogan (initially selected on the fifth round out of Stanford by Kansas City), and then was benched in favor of veteran Josh McCown beginning with the second series of the third quarter.

Kessler was 11-for-18 for 91 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 92.6 when he was removed for good with the Browns trailing, 13-7.

"They're really auditioning quarterbacks, don't you think?" NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth asked play-by-play man Al Michaels. "They're trying to figure out, is it possible they have the guy (the quarterback of the future) on the roster?

The Steelers prepare for the Week 11 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.

"You went into the half with the lead (7-6). I thought (Kessler) was playing pretty well. I think there's a strategy to this whole thing, you just don't know what it is."

Kessler has good pocket awareness and mobility, takes care of the ball (six TD passes, one INT) and throws an accurate pass but can't consistently get the ball down the field.

McCown is 18-41 as an NFL starter (0-2 this season) with Arizona (10-12), Oakland (2-7), Chicago (4-3), Tampa Bay (1-10) and Cleveland (1-9).

Hogan is a runner (105 yards and one touchdown rushing, 104 yards passing, no touchdowns, two interceptions on the season).

The Browns have deployed their quarterbacks as follows: Kessler (seven starts, 293 snaps), McCown (two starts, 146 snaps), Hogan (49 snaps), Robert Griffin III (one start, 48 snaps), Charlie Whitehurst (40 snaps) and former-quarterback-turned-wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (23 snaps).

GROWING PAINS: The Browns are the NFL's youngest team (average age 25.7) and have the most rookies in the league (10). They play with an enthusiasm and effort despite not having won a game but they're winless (0-10) because they haven't been able to sustain enough throughout games.

Cleveland has been outscored by 20 points in first halves (144-124) and by 100 points in third and fourth quarters (151-51) this season.


UNSETTLED SECONDARY:** The Browns were without starting cornerback Jamar Taylor (groin) against the Ravens and still played seven defensive backs in a variety of combinations.

Rookie cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (signed off waivers from Jacksonville, where he had landed as an undrafted free agent) had an interception and was beaten for a pair of touchdowns in Baltimore.

Such is life for a rookie in an NFL secondary.

DOUBTING THOMAS: Left offensive tackle Joe Thomas hasn't missed an offensive snap in 154 consecutive games played since being selected third overall in 2007. But Thomas' last game wasn't his best. He was beaten twice by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs for quarterback hits that ended up influencing turnovers. One resulted in a wobbling pass that was intercepted and one forced a fumble that was recovered by the Ravens.

DIFFERENCE-MAKERS: The trade with New England for Jamie Collins landed the Browns a linebacker capable of playing inside or outside, rushing the passer and stuffing the run. Collins devoted much of his time to running back Le'Veon Bell when the Patriots played the Steelers on Oct. 23.

Cornerback Joe Haden missed three starts (groin) but still has three interceptions (all at the expense of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco). Haden spent much of the Ravens game covering wide receiver Mike Wallace (four catches for 59 yards, 23 on a shallow-cross against Haden when the Browns were blitzing).

Second-year nose tackle Danny Shelton (12th overall, 2015, Washington) leads the defensive line with 41 tackles and is much-improved this season.

PLAY-MAKERS: Pryor (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) and rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman (15th overall, Baylor) are threats outside. Coleman is back after missing six games with a broken hand. Pryor has transitioned from his quarterback days to the tune of 51 catches for 627 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Duke Johnson averages 5.0 yards per carry (49 attempts, 247 yards) and can catch (39-338).

Collinsworth on Pryor: "I'm almost amazed at how quickly Pryor has become not just a good receiver but a very good receiver."

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