1. Quarterback Brian Hoyer is making his third career start. Last week against Vikings, Hoyer was 30-of-54 for 321 yards and threw three touchdowns and three interceptions. He faces a much tougher test Sunday against a stingy Bengals defense. With 300 yards passing, Hoyer would become the first Browns quarterback since Brain Sipe in 1980 with back-to-back 300-yard games.
2. Running back Willis McGahee ran for only 9 yards on eight carries last week but could see a bigger role now that he has a week of practice under his belt. It’s unclear how much of the load he’ll be able to carry. Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey could split carries with McGahee.
3. Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo could get his first career NFL start Sunday, as starting linebacker Jabaal Sheard is nursing a left knee that he sprained while recovering a fumble against the Vikings. Sheard did not participate in practice Thursday. Mingo already has two sacks and six tackles this season in limited action.
4. Sunday brings the return of James Harrison to Cleveland, the former Steelers LB who in the past knocked former Browns Joshua Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi and Colt McCoy unconscious. Harrison signed with the Bengals this offseason but has only one tackle through three games. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said last week: “He’ll be an impact.”
5. The Browns have done well against the run this season, slowing down the likes of Ray Rice of the Ravens and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings. The Browns face a two-pronged rushing attack this week in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard. Bernard is an emerging weapon for the Bengals who has scored three touchdowns in two games and could see his role expanded.