1. Two first-round quarterbacks entering their sophomore season, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill, both have something to prove after putting up similar numbers as rookies. Tannehill threw for 3,294 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 58.3 percent passing. Weeden threw for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on 57.4 percent passing. Both have work to do to catch up to “The Big Three” from last year’s draft class: Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks).
2. With Josh Gordon serving the first of his two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, wide receivers Greg Little, Davone Bess and Travis Benjamin will have to shoulder more of the load. Little will be going against Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, who slides into the No. 1 cornerback role after Sean Smith signed with the Kansas City Chiefs this summer. Bess has an opportunity to make an impact against his former team and Benjamin has two games to show he can handle being an every-down receiver.
3. If there’s one thing the Dolphins did well last season, it was stopping the run (13th in the NFL). They also added Dannell Ellerbe, who was with the Baltimore Ravens last year, to help solidify their front seven. They’ll try to slow down Trent Richardson, who needs 155 yards to have the second-most rushing yards in a Browns player’s first 16 games since Kevin Mack had 1,104 in 1985. History isn’t on his side — in the Browns’ most recent games against the Dolphins, they ran for only 122 total yards (61 per game).
4. The last time the Dolphins came to Cleveland, bruising running back Daniel Thomas ran for 95 yards, most of it between the tackles. Thomas’ role is expected to be reduced in favor of speedster Lamar Miller, a second-year back from Miami who the Dolphins took in the fourth round in 2012. Miller vastly outplayed Thomas in the preseason (4.2 yards per carry to 2.7) and is expected to carry the bulk of the load going forward. The Dolphins’ running game will hinge on speed this season.
5. This game could have been a showcase for two of the premier pass rushers from this most recent draft class, the Dolphins’ Dion Jordan (third overall) and the Browns’ Barkevious Mingo (sixth overall). Instead, Mingo was ruled out on Friday by coach Rob Chudzinski with a bruised lung and Jordan’s status was up in the air as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, although he’s listed as probable. Opposite Jordan will be Cameron Wake, one of the better pass rushers in the league.