Inactives: Browns – wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), running back Brandon Jackson, free safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), left guard Jason Pinkston (blood clot), tight end Alex Smith and strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (neck/shoulder). Note: Smith is the only surprise scratch. He played last Sunday and practiced all week after missing three games with a concussion. Massaquoi is inactive for the fourth consecutive game. Colts – running back Donald Brown (knee), cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder), linebacker Robert Mathis (knee), defensive ends Fili Moala and Cory Redding (knee), nose tackle Martin Tevaseu (ankle) and guard Joe Reitz (knee).
Lineup changes: Browns – rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon will start in place of Massaquoi; left guard John Greco for Pinkston; and rookie James-Michael Johnson for Fujita. Notes: Greco will start for the fifth time in his career and the first time with the Browns. Johnson will start in place of Fujita for the second week in a row. Colts – running back Vick Ballard will start in place of Brown; defensive end Ricardo Mathews for Redding; nose tackle Drake Nevis for Moala; strongside linebacker Jerry Hughes for Mathis; and left cornerback Vontae Davis for Cassius Vaughn.
Storylines by Stephanie Storm: 1. The Jimmy Haslam/Joe Banner leadership regime is under way in Cleveland. If Browns players thought they felt the presence of their soon-to-be owner Haslam last week with a pregame jet flyover, they haven’t seen anything yet. Haslam’s reign became official Tuesday, and he wasted no time bringing in a right-hand man in Banner as the new CEO. The leadership change means everyone — from front-office members to the players — will be evaluated throughout the remainder of the season. 2. There’s a mutual respect between the rookie quarterbacks that will go head-to-head today in the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Browns’ Brandon Weeden. The pair last faced each other Jan. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl, with Weeden’s Oklahoma State team coming out on top of Luck’s Stanford team in a shootout. Both players have thrown seven touchdowns, but Weeden ranks just ahead of Luck among rookie passing yard leaders with 1,519 yards to Luck’s 1,488. 3. Bruce Arians has a lot on his plate this season. Not only is he the Colts offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in charge of the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick in Luck, he’s also the interim head coach while coach Chuck Pagano is being treated for leukemia. They speak frequently — sometimes a couple of times a day — and the team has rallied around Pagano’s illness, but it’s still a lot for Arians to handle. 4. After breaking into the NFL last season as a rookie, Colts running back Delone Carter will play in just his third game and second since being sidelined with a chest injury. Carter, a 5-foot-9, 238-pounder from Copley, was a fourth-round draft pick last year but has just four carries for 13 yards entering the game today. 5. There are quite a few coaching connections between the Colts and Browns. Pagano was the Browns’ secondary coach from 2001-03 and Arians the Browns’ offensive coordinator from 2001-03. Colts special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf was the Browns’ special teams quality control coach from 2004-06. Player connections include Carter and Colts Austintown native and guard/center Mike McGlynn.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns hoping to build off their newfound energy, establish winning streak to start Jimmy Haslam era. 2. Matchup of the week: Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. 3. Keys to the game. 4. Injury report. 5. Predictions. 6. Numbers to watch. 7. Quote of the week.