BEREA — Interim coach Gregg Williams has talked to his staff about the negative history the Browns hope to avoid Sunday when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals, and he plans to use it to motivate his players in the buildup to the game.
"I use everything we can," Williams said Monday with the team back to work after its bye week.
The Browns (3-6-1) haven't won on the road since they defeated the Baltimore Ravens 33-30 in overtime on Oct. 11, 2015. A loss to the Bengals (5-5) at Paul Brown Stadium would give the Browns their 26th consecutive defeat on the road and put them in a tie with the Detroit Lions (2007-10) for the NFL record.
"Hopefully we can put this in the [win] column and break that not winning on the road [streak]," defensive end Chris Smith said. "To get to where we want to go, which is postseason, you've got to win on the road."
The Browns are long shots to earn a postseason berth for the first time since 2002, but they would remain on the edge of the wild-card playoff picture by defeating the Bengals, who are favored to win by three points.
"We've got a lot of juice right now, and we're just looking to finish games because we've been in a lot of games this year, and if we can finish the season strong, we can make a real late push at this playoff spot," safety Damarious Randall said.
"We're about to finish the season pretty good. I've got a really good feeling about this. I'm healthy, feeling good, finally. Haven't been healthy since, honestly, Week 1, so this feels good."
Randall is not the only one feeling good on the heels of the Browns ending a four-game losing streak with a 28-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 11.
"If you can’t and don’t believe that we can make a playoff run, then you’re on the wrong team," cornerback TJ Carrie said. "And I feel like from that standpoint, we all have that feeling and that emotion about we can definitely do something very special."
But before any playoff talk can be taken seriously by outsiders, the Browns must string wins together. They haven't won consecutive games since they prevailed in three in a row in 2014 (on Oct. 26, Nov. 2 and Nov. 6).
"Anytime a team gets starting to win a couple in a row, it builds momentum, it builds belief and that can have a positive impact on your team," right guard Kevin Zeitler said. "It’d be real nice if we can get that going."
A rare win on the road would be required. Four of the Browns' final six games will be on the road.
"I don't think it's tough [to win on the road]," said Randall, who spent the past three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. "I feel like the game is played the same other than the crowd is going to boo every time you make a play, and every time the ref throws a flag they're going to think the flag is bulls***, but that's what home fans are for. We're definitely looking forward to getting our first mini-roll to end the season."
Ready for reunion
Smith is excited to face the Bengals after he spent last season with them. He recently spoke to Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap about the meeting. The two players became good friends.
"I said, 'Tell [Bengals quarterback] Andy [Dalton] to watch out. He's live now,'" Smith said.
Dunlap had some trash talk, too.
"He's always picking on me," Smith said. "He's like, 'I'm going to tell the fans to throw beer bottles at you.'"
Smith signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in March. He played with the Bengals for one season after the Jacksonville Jaguars traded him on April 11, 2017.
"I never take anything personal because I built a lot of great relationships when I was in Jacksonville and Cincinnati," said Smith, who has 15 tackles, including a sack, and one forced fumble this season. "There's no hard feelings with anybody. I'm going to give [Bengals] coach [Marvin] Lewis a hug and give Andy a hug, too, before and after the game."
Smith will also give the Browns all of the information he can about the Bengals.
"I know [Williams] is probably going to have me guest speak in front of the defense," he said.
• Williams said he'll accept the Browns' invitation to interview for their full-time head coaching job. Last week, General Manager John Dorsey said Williams would receive an interview.
• Veteran Greg Robinson and undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison will compete to start at left tackle, Williams said. "Both of them deserve that," Williams said. Robinson has started the past two games and received praise from his coaches and teammates, so it would be a major surprise if he didn't keep the job.
• Rookie defensive end Chad Thomas, a third-round draft pick, has played in just four games this season and has been inactive in three, including the past two. He hasn't recorded any defensive statistics. "Has to continue to grow," Williams said. "It's not an easy business."
• Center JC Tretter (high-ankle sprain) is the only player on the active roster who sat out the first practice coming off the bye. He's been playing through the injury since Oct. 14.
• The Browns signed defensive back Lenzy Pipkins to the practice squad. They had an open spot after releasing defensive back Arrion Springs on Nov. 13.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.