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Game day blog: Browns at Giants (Week 5)

By Nate Ulrich Published: October 7, 2012

Final score: Giants 41, Browns 27 (game story; Marla Ridenour's column; notebook; thumbs up/thumbs down)

Pregame notes

Inactives: Browns -- quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), running back Brandon Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), offensive tackle Ryan Miller, wide receiver Travis Benjamin (hamstring) and tight end Alex Smith (concussion). Notes: The Browns will play with only four active wide receivers: rookie Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Jordan Norwood and Josh Cribbs, who will play after suffering a concussion Sept. 27 against the Baltimore Ravens. They did not elevate rookie Josh Cooper from the practice squad. As expected, strong safety T.J. Ward will start despite undergoing surgery to repair his broken right thumb a little more than a week ago. Ward, who was listed as questionable heading into today, will wear a cast on his hand during the game. Usama Young will start at free safety despite dealing with a knee injury. Free safety Eric Hagg is active after spending Weeks 3 and 4 on the inactive list. Rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson will make his regular-season NFL debut after sitting out the first four games with a ribs/oblique injury. Giants -- wide receiver Ramses Barden (concussion), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (quad), cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring), wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee), safety Kenny Phillips (knee), linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring) and offensive tackle David Diehl (knee).

Lineup changes: Browns -- Gordon will start in place of Massaquoi. Giants -- defensive tackle Markus Kuhn will start in place of Bernard.

Top storylines by Stephanie Storm: 1. The winless Browns hope to continue playing the role of David when they take on this season’s Goliath, the New York Giants. The Browns have beaten the past three defending Super Bowl champions they’ve played: the Giants in 2008 (winning 35-14), the Pittsburgh Steelers in ’09 (13-6) and the New Orleans Saints in 2010 (30-17). 2. It probably felt like the longest four weeks of Joe Haden’s life, but the third-year cornerback will be sitting out the final game of his four-game suspension for reportedly testing positive during the offseason for the prescription drug Adderall. Haden is usually assigned to the opponents’ best wide receiver, and the secondary has struggled in his absence. 3. Injuries continue to mount for the Browns, with the receiving corps the hardest hit during the loss last week to the Baltimore Ravens. It appears as if kick returner/wide receiver Josh Cribbs (concussion) will play, but Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin have been rules out with hamstring injuries. Strong safety T.J. Ward returned to practice Thursday with his broken right thumb in a cast and will start. 4. The Giants feature two local talents. Linebacker Chase Blackburn and wide receiver Domenik Hixon are both products of the University of Akron. Blackburn signed with the Giants as a rookie free agent in 2005. Hixon was a fourth-round draft pick in 2006 by the Denver Broncos and was awarded to the Giants off waivers in 2007. 5. The two teams have plenty of coaching connections, including Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, running backs coach Jerald Ingram and strength and conditioning coach Jerry Palmieri, who worked under Giants coach Tom Coughlin with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995-96. Later, Jauron also coached alongside Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell on the 1998 Jaguars staff.

Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. The Browns are bracing for the Giants’ fearsome defensive line. 2. Matchup of the week: Giants quarterback Eli Manning is Mr. Clutch. 3. Keys to the game. 4. Injury report. 5. Quote of the week. 6. Numbers to watch. 7. Predictions.

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