Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavaliers recorded their sixth consecutive victory, defeating the Brooklyn Nets 119-109 Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

1. The game was memorable because LeBron James returned from getting stitches above his lip in the third quarter and poured in 23 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter, including 18 in a row.

2. The game was significant because coach Tyronn Lue challenged James at halftime and Lue willingly volunteered that information after the game.

3. A sometimes tight-lipped Lue didn’t make reporters drag that nugget out of him. He practically led with it.

4. When it was suggested that James getting hit in the mouth by former Cavs’ center Tyler Zeller woke him up, Lue said, “Good.” When pressed on why, Lue said, “Because he was messing around. I told him at halftime, ‘You messing around.’ He got a little upset and that’s good. Get hit again.”

5. At halftime, James had eight points, hitting 3 of 8 shots, 1 of 3 3-pointers and 1 of 2 free throws. He had three rebounds, three assists, a steal and two turnovers in 15 minutes and the Cavs trailed 46-45. In the second quarter, James scored only one point.

6. Lue has come to the conclusion the best way to inspire James is to criticize him.

7. “Yeah, tell him and he’ll get mad like ‘I’m not messing,’” Lue said. “But I didn’t say messing around.”

8. James wasn’t happy when the conversation was brought up.

9. “Whatever T-Lue say goes, so, you know, he knows how to challenge me sometimes,” James said.

10. More famously, Lue did the same to James at halftime of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Warriors and the Cavs went on to end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought. This season, Lue has praised James, but not effusively, even though going into the night James ranked third in the league in scoring (28.3 points per game) and fourth in assists (8.5) and is a month shy of his 33rd birthday.

11. Perhaps Lue was still seething over a showboating James’ missed dunk with 3:39 left in the first quarter that sent the Cavs into a funk. He missed two consecutive 3-pointers after that as the Cavs saw a nine-point lead shrink to three at the end of the period.

12. “After the dunk, I came and pulled up for a 3, that was a bad shot. But they felt like the other one in the corner was a bad shot, against their big, and called a timeout after that point and kind of took the life out of the team,” James said of the first quarter. “I know it starts and ends with me, so, I gotta be better, which I was in the second half.”

13. Lue said he knows challenging James works better than pulling James out of the game. But Lue essentially got both when James said Zeller “head-butted” him with 9:30 left in the third quarter.

14. “He went down the lane, it was my rotation, I was able to strip the ball clean and his head hit my face,” James said.

15. Trainer Steve Spiro looked at James at midcourt, then they both headed to the locker room. James wouldn’t say how many stitches he needed.

16. “Enough to close the wound,” he said, the spot on the left side of his mouth just above the mustache line slightly puffy.

17. “I was just on the training staff, just trying to hurry them up so I can get back on the court,” James said. “It takes a little bit of time because obviously they’re not really prepared for something like that to happen at that moment. Just trying to be as patient as I could because I just wanted to get back on the floor. Right then we weren’t playing with a good pace when I came out of the game, especially in the second quarter.”

18. When James returned with 4:33 left in the third quarter, a piece of tape covering the stitches, the Cavs trailed 69-62 against the team they’d lost to at Brooklyn on Oct. 25.

19. He scored on a layup to give him 10 points through three quarters, then came out in the fourth with a vengeance.

20. “Nah, you can’t force it. You’ve got to let it come to you,” James said. “It’s times when you wish you can do it and sometimes when the ball just doesn’t go in. But I put a lot of work into my craft and I believe that every shot I take is going to go in. But without my teammates setting screens and defending, getting the rebounds, cutting, and things of that nature, then none of that is even possible for me, so, they get the most credit.”

21. James’ string of 18 consecutive points started with two free throws with 4:25 to go. In the run, he hit two 3-pointers, two driving layups, a 4-footer, a rebound basket and 4 of 5 free throw attempts. An and-one try with 2:32 to go was his only miss from the field or the line in that stretch.

22. James totaled 23 points in the quarter, two shy of his career-high. (He had 25 in the third quarter of a 61-point game against Charlotte on March 3, 2014.) James finished with 33 for the game and with his second trey got his 1,500th career 3-pointer, becoming the 26th in league history to reach that mark.

23. “He came out and he had brand new aggression for the game,” Kyle Korver said of James. “He came in (to the locker room), I don’t know if he was mad about it or what, but he came out and he had a fire under him and he just took the game over.”

24. Perhaps still playing psychologist, Lue wouldn’t agree that Wednesday marked another memorable James moment to look back on.

25. “I don’t think so,” Lue said. “He scored 23 in the fourth and we needed every bit of it. When he came back, I thought he did a really good job of getting into the paint, playing downhill. That opened up his 3-point shot also. Playing very aggressive in that second half.”

26. Dwyane Wade, a close friend who played four seasons with James in Miami, said he’d never seen an injury spark James like that.

27. “Nah. I don’t. Because the only thing he ever has is a sprained ankle. That’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him have,” Wade said. “That was the first time he went to the locker room and got a stitch, I think. So … welcome.”

28. That was an apparent “Welcome to the club,” greeting, but not entirely accurate. James was gashed in the head in Game 4 of the 2015 Finals when he was fouled by Andrew Bogut in the second quarter and hit his head on a television camera on the baseline. He initially said the would was closed with glue, but later said he needed stitches, also declining to say how many.

29. On this night, Kevin Love called James’ performance special.

30. “Sometimes it’s being aggressive and picking your spots and other times it’s, ‘Get the hell out of the way,’” Love said. “Tonight, I don’t know how many he had straight — 18 straight — I mean that was a special fourth-quarter performance, but it seems like he’s always done that. But this year in particular he’s done an incredible job of doing that for us.”

31. James leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring with a 10-point average, ahead of Kristaps Porzingis (7.7), DeMarcus Cousins (7.4) and Kyrie Irving (7.3).

32. “My team looks at me to be that scorer now,” James said. “The last couple years, Kyrie obviously being as great as he was in the fourth quarter, we kind of picked our games. There were games half the time that he had it going and, ‘Hey, go get.’ There were games half the time where I had it going and I’d go get it. But right now my teammates look at me and they’re like, ‘OK, like this is your quarter. You’ve done this your whole career. Let’s try to make some things happen.’ It’s very important that I try to come through for them.”

CLEVELAND: Having suffered their most embarrassing loss of the season to the Brooklyn Nets — one that left even the New York tabloid headline writers incredulous — the Cavaliers seemingly had easy motivation Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

Then again, on the night before Thanksgiving, maybe family, feasts and football were more on their minds.

The Cavs’ shot selection was poor, their play sloppy, their attention to detail lacking. LeBron James even missed a spectacular fast-break dunk in the first quarter.

But James shook the Cavs out of their lethargy with a 23-point fourth quarter as the Cavs pulled away for a 119-109 triumph over the Nets for their sixth consecutive win.

James scored 18 consecutive points and finished with a game-high 33, along with six rebounds and five assists, before Cavs coach Tyronn Lue pulled his starters with 28.2 seconds left.

James headed to the locker room with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter, bleeding from a collision with Tyler Zeller. James returned at the 4:33 mark after getting stitches for a facial laceration, the area covered by a piece of tape above his lip.

It didn’t keep James from hitting his 1,500th career 3-pointer with 9:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. He flirted with a season-low in scoring, with 10 points through three quarters, before turning it on in the final 4:25.

From that point on, James poured in 18 points. For the game, he hit 11-of-17 field goals, 4-of-7 3-pointers and 7-of-9 free throws.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the Nets with 20 points and former Cavs guard Joe Harris added 18 points, one of his career highs. He hit 7-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade scored 18 points each for the Cavs, with Wade contributing four rebounds and five assists and Love 10 rebounds and three assists. Love went 1-for-7 from the field in the first quarter and finished 7-of-18.

Jae Crowder turned in his second consecutive solid game with 14 points, hitting 4-of-5 field goals and all three 3-point attempts, and Kyle Korver scored 12.

The game matched two teams seemingly going in opposite directions.

The Cavs (11-7) are on a roll despite missing three key rotation players — Derrick Rose (sprained left ankle), Tristan Thompson (strained left calf) and Iman Shumpert (sore left knee). Since a four-game losing streak, which started with their five-point loss Oct. 25 in Brooklyn, the Cavs are 8-2 and had scored at least 110 points in nine of 10 games.

The Nets (6-11) have lost four of their last five. They were without center Trevor Booker, sidelined with a sprained left ankle, and former Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell, still out after surgery on his left knee.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson knew the Cavs had changed since the first meeting.

“They’re getting back to who they are,” Atkinson said before the game. “Tons of talent, tons of shooting and obviously LeBron has really taken another step. This is a different team that we played the first time, that’s for sure.”

The Cavs entered the game ranked third in the league in scoring at 110.9 points per game, while the Nets were fourth at 110.6.

After James’ shocking miss on a showboating dunk after his steal with 3:40 left in the first quarter, the Cavs seemed to lose focus. James clanked a 3 from the corner, Love lost the ball under the basket and Wade missed two free throws. A driving lay­up by Wade accounted for the only Cavs’ points as the Nets ended the quarter on a 7-2 run.

The Nets opened the second quarter with 3-pointers by Tyler Zeller and Sean Kilpatrick to take a 23-20 lead as the Cavs blew a nine-point first-quarter advantage.

The second unit helped the Cavs build a 31-25 lead in the second quarter, but the Nets fought back and led 46-45 at the break.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

CLEVELAND: Cavaliers physical therapist George Sibel wasn’t pounding Isaiah Thomas with the large pad Sibel had on his right arm.

But the point guard targeted to return from a torn labrum in his right hip seemed to take another step forward in his rehabilitation after Wednesday’s shootaround at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Thomas continued to jog between stations and shoot, replicating transition 3s, as he did in Detroit on Sunday. But he also shuffled side to side. He concluded a rigorous workout by taking contact from Sibel as two other Cavs staffers joined them on the court.

The Cavs haven’t given an update on Thomas’ status since announcing that the centerpiece of the Cavs’ Aug. 22 trade with the Boston Celtics was slated to return by the end of the year. A team source said Sunday that Thomas has had no setbacks.

“We know he’s making progress every day, which is good for us. We just want to make sure we do what’s best for him as far as health-wise and not coming back too soon,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said before Wednesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena.

Lue said Thomas has responded well with each step in his rehab.

“We’re excited about that and he continues to keep progressing every day so we’re happy for that and we’ll see what happens,” Lue said.

Thomas may have little time to practice before he returns, but LeBron James said he believes he can use games to get integrated to his new team.

“It depends on the schedule if we’re going to be able to have practice time for him to get kind of used to the guys,” James said at shootaround. “But I think if the schedule is not in the favor of that, he’s going to get it on the court and sometimes that’s some of the best teacher, too, when you learn on the fly on the floor.

“He’s a veteran, so he kind of knows what to expect. Obviously this has been another difficult challenge for him with this injury, but the other guys that have been playing have to figure out how to get him involved and get him acclimated as quick as possible.”

Thomas has set up his return with a two-part video titled Book of Isaiah on the Players Tribune, a media company founded by former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

James has a similar company, Uninterrupted, to allow athletes to tell their stories candidly.

Asked if he was talking to Thomas about doing one for his Uninterrupted company, James said: “Uh, he’s with the Players Tribune right now. I might try to get in his ear a little bit. Call Derek Jeter, see if I can get a buyout.”

Defensive strides

The Cavs took a five-game winning streak into Wednesday’s game, and during the surge their defensive efficiency has ranked eighth the league. The Cavs still stand last in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 109.4, but they are 1.2 points out of a tie for 28th.

“Yeah, we’ve been having a game plan that’s been consistent over the last few games and we stuck to it,” James said. “We haven’t done much changing, we’ve stuck to our game plan and tried to execute that as close to 48 minutes as possible.

“No matter if it’s been going well at times or whatever the case may be, we just stuck with it. Understand that we have to do that, get that down until we’re ready to kind of switch off to something else. I give that a lot of credit.”

Asked if the approach was something the players asked for, James said, “It’s something we all figured out.”

Lue said earlier this season that he was forced to simplify the defense because of a rash of injuries and constantly changing rotations.

The Cavs have held four of their last five opponents to under .450 shooting from the field. In the past five victories, they had held foes to .444 shooting, .313 from 3-point range.

Shumpert update

Lue doesn’t expect guard Iman Shumpert to return from his left knee effusion — water on the knee — until perhaps Monday, when the Cavs play at Philadelphia. Jose Calderon started at point guard against the Nets.

“Since we won’t have a practice tomorrow, probably looking more toward Monday,” Lue said of Shumpert. “We’ve got two days and we’ll be able to practice. We’ll see how it goes.”

Lue had no timetable for center Tristan Thompson, who has been out three weeks with a strained left calf. He was initially estimated to miss three to four weeks.

“He’s getting better. We don’t want to rush him back,” Lue said. “Make sure he’s healthy when he comes back so we won’t have any setbacks.”

Toy drive begins

The Cavs and Cleveland Monsters will begin their annual toy drive on Friday, with collections of new, unwrapped gifts at Quicken Loans Arena continuing through Saturday, Dec. 9.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected].

BEREA: DeShone Kizer has faced more adversity during his rookie season with the Browns than some NFL quarterbacks encounter in years.

He missed part of a game with a migraine. He’s been benched three times. He watched his team attempt but fail to trade for Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron, who would have replaced him in the starting lineup. He missed part of another game with bruised ribs. He’s 0-9 as a starter for an 0-10 team.

And now Kizer is dealing with the disappointment of following his best performance with what was likely his worst as he prepares for Sunday’s road game against the Bengals (4-6).

Coming off a bye week, Kizer excelled Nov. 12 in a 38-24 loss to the Detroit Lions until he was knocked out of the game for a couple of series with the bruised ribs. Then he flopped Sunday by committing four turnovers in a 19-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“That Detroit game, I had an extra week of preparation,” Kizer said Wednesday. “I felt very confident walking into it. Obviously, being in a dome [at Ford Field], I knew I was going to be able to spin the ball a little better. Now I just have to make sure that confidence that I felt before that game I feel before every game.

“I have to take that same preparation that I took for two weeks and condense that into one and have that confidence going into every week and hopefully play that well every time I step on the field.”

Immediately after the loss to the Jaguars, Kizer explained he felt as if he failed to show development in any area.

“I was quite emotional after the game,” Kizer said, looking back. “Kind of an aggressive statement there.”

Yet left tackle Spencer Drango believes Kizer is mentally tough enough to handle the roller coaster he’s riding.

“He’ll bounce back fine,” Drango said. “From Week 1 to now, he’s gained so much more experience, and he’s gotten so much better. And he’s a tough kid. He’ll bounce back. I don’t think he lets stuff affect him very much. If he does, it doesn’t show, which is awesome because he’s the leader of the offense, so he’s got to be able to shake stuff off.”

After Sunday’s loss, Jackson committed to starting Kizer for the rest of the season as long as he’s healthy. Now Jackson wants to see Kizer become more consistent as a player and leader. The coach noted how Kizer got off to a hot start against the Lions and rallied his teammates on the sideline, only to lack a similar energy and presence after a slow start against the Jaguars.

“As the quarterback, regardless of how the game starts, you just have to be consistent, and you have to be who you are because the team kind of feeds off of you,” Jackson said. “I think he gets it. It’s a conversation we have had. I don’t think he’s doing it intentionally. I just think those things happen. There’s no question when you have success early, everything feels good. When you don’t, you’re not sure how things are going.

“But that’s when you really have to push through and have that focus about, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to get it going my way by making the plays that I need to make.’ It’s a lesson learned. All of the things that we’re talking about are little lessons for him week in and week out. There have been so many throughout this year that hopefully the growth will keep coming, and he’ll keep learning from these things.”

Kizer also needs to take care of the ball after throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles on strip-sacks. He had one turnover in the previous two games combined but took a huge step backward with his second four-turnover outing of the season.

He missed high on a couple of throws, one resulting in an interception. Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith recovered the fumble on the second strip-sack for a touchdown to seal the outcome with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter.

“Allowed some of the conditions to get to me there,” Kizer said, alluding to the wintry weather this past weekend in Cleveland. “I just can’t do that. As quarterback in the NFL, those [are] opportunities you can’t miss. Those two [high passes] kind of cost us some prime opportunities, which could have led to some additional points.

“[On the strip-sacks], it’s about understanding where the defense is, where your weaknesses are in the pocket and having a good pocket presence, so you can step up around some of those guys.”

When the Browns visit the Bengals, Kizer will face an opponent for the second time, something he’s never done before in the NFL. The Browns lost 31-7 to the Bengals on Oct. 1.

“I believe I have grown a lot since then and look forward to making corrections from that game, understanding what they have done since that game and properly preparing myself,” he said.

It’ll also be the first meeting between the two AFC North teams since they agreed on a deal for McCarron that didn’t go through. The NFL didn’t receive a signed agreement from the Browns before the 4 p.m. Oct. 31 trade deadline.

“That is way back when,” Kizer said. “I’m here. I’m the starting quarterback, and I look forward to doing whatever I can to continue to gain the respect of my teammates and this organization so that I can stay in this position as long as I can.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/abj.sports.

BEREA: Coach Hue Jackson admitted he wanted to wash his hands of Josh Gordon when the talented but troubled wide receiver left the Browns on Sept. 29, 2016, to check into rehab.

But Jackson also explained his attitude toward Gordon has since changed because the coach has learned about the 2013 All-Pro selection’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Gordon practiced with the 0-10 Browns on Wednesday for the first time in 448 days, and Jackson opened up afterward about how he had given up on the player a year ago.

“I was [done with him]. I want you to know that. I was,” Jackson said. “And for the football team a year ago, I thought it was really important to really establish a culture here that was right and strong, and if somebody wasn’t going to be here, then I need to move on beyond that. And we did. So I was [done] based on what the situation was at that time.

“Since then, [I have been] understanding and truly getting [what he’s endured]. I mean let’s be honest, what this young man’s dealt with is a disease. All right? That’s what it is. It happens and it affects a lot of people in this world. So I had to first educate myself and understand what he was going through, what he was dealing with. I had not had a lot exposure to him, other than what I knew. And then once I understood it better and watched him earn the right to be back in this building … I felt more comfortable.

“If this was just another one of those fly-by situations where it was one of these, ‘He’s going to be in and back out again,’ I wouldn’t want any part of that ’cause I don’t think that’s fair to the team, I don’t think it’s fair to the staff, I don’t think it’s fair to the fans. I really don’t ’cause he’s a very talented player. I truly believe this young man’s working at it. He still has to earn that from his teammates, from the coaches and from the fans and from [the media]. That’s what I think he understands now. So I think he’s in a lot better place, a lot better place to have more people assist him and help him.”

Gordon’s departure from the Browns last year was for his third known stint in rehab. He went to rehab again this year for more than three months and got out in late September. He recently told GQ Magazine he smoked marijuana or drank alcohol before “probably every game” of his collegiate and professional careers.

When Gordon last spoke to reporters Nov. 8, he said he was “clean and sober” and planning to accomplish his goal “to be the best wide receiver of all time.”

Gordon has been suspended for the past 43 games and 53 of the past 58 because of recurring violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He was reinstated on a conditional basis Nov. 1 by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He reunited with the Browns on Nov. 7 and became eligible to return to practice this week.

He hadn’t practiced with the Browns since Aug. 31, 2016, when he participated in a walkthrough on the eve of the preseason finale. He hadn’t practiced with them during the regular season since Dec. 26, 2014.

Yet Gordon’s talent immediately stood out upon his return to the field.

“He’s big, he’s fast, he’s athletic, strong,” Jackson said. “He’s got strong hands. And he can run. He can really run. So that’s exciting. But he’s got some work to do the rest of this week, and then next week we’ll stick him out there and let him play.”

If all goes well with Gordon’s comeback attempt, he’ll be eligible to play in the final five games of the season beginning Dec. 3 on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. He hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since Dec. 21, 2014.

Gordon, 26, appears to be in phenomenal shape. That hasn’t always been the case. There were times when he would need to lose a substantial amount of weight after a long layoff.

“It makes it easier for him ’cause I think you now get to focus on the things that really matter, which is preparing for a game, as opposed to trying to get weight off and get in shape,” Jackson said. “I think he’s in really good shape. I think he’s in a really good place just as a person, first and foremost, and then good shape. And I think he’s eager to continue to learn and to get better. So he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

In the 20-minute portion of practice open to reporters, Gordon ran routes and caught passes with the other receivers. Later, he participated in team drills.

“You can just see there was a different spirit in practice with him running around,” Jackson said. “There’s different competition, the receiver versus the corner. It’s nothing … against the guys that are here. I mean Josh is just a different talent.

“His teammates see it and notice it, and that’s what it’s all about. He’s a really good player. But as I told him today, he’s going to earn it. There’s a lot of things he’s still got to continue to do, and work through and I think he’s willing to do that.”

Jackson revealed he inserted Gordon into the starting offense during practice.

“I just wanted to make myself feel happy for a little bit,” the coach said.

Having Gordon back reminds Jackson of when he coached Bengals six-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green.

“This guy, he’s different,” Jackson said. “He just really is. It’s fun to talk about him right now, but I really don’t have him in a game yet. So I think next week I’ll probably be too excited. I might miss some of [my news conferences] working up things for him. It is fun to have a guy that’s as talented as he is back on our football team, and we’ll see what he can do with him next week.”

Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer isn’t allowing himself to become too fired up about Gordon’s return because the former Pro Bowler won’t be able to play Sunday at Cincinnati (4-6).

“He’s a heck of a player,” Kizer said, “and I’m looking forward to when he’s back out there.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/abj.sports.

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The Browns signed free safety Justin Currie and elevated defensive end Tyrone Holmes from the practice squad Tuesday.

They had vacancies on the active roster because they also placed starting defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (broken right foot that will require surgery) and defensive tackle Jamie Meder (high-ankle sprain) on injured reserve.

Ogbah and Meder suffered the injuries in Sunday’s 19-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ogbah started all 10 games this season and had 29 tackles, including four sacks, and six passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a blocked extra point. Meder appeared in 10 games this season with one start and had 13 tackles.

Currie, 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, spent the final four weeks of last season on the practice squad of the Browns and was with them this past summer in training camp until they waived him Aug. 23 with an injury designation after he hurt an ankle. Currie had received some practice time with the first-team defense before the injury occurred.

A Western Michigan product, Currie entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants and spent his rookie season on injured reserve.

Holmes, 6-2 and 253 pounds, appeared in one game with the Browns this season and spent the past eight weeks on their practice squad. A rookie sixth-round draft pick last year whom the Browns claimed off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Holmes had five tackles, including a sack, in the Montana product’s 11 games in 2016.

The Browns signed safety Jacob Hagen to the practice squad. Hagen, a 6-2, 205-pound Liberty product, entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams. He spent time on the practice squads of the Rams (2015) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2016-17).

 

Since the snow has arrived in Northeast Ohio, perhaps it’s a good time to look ahead to Goodyear, Ariz., in the spring.

The Indians on Monday announced their 2018 spring training schedule, which kicks off Feb. 23 at Goodyear Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report by Feb. 14, with the full squad reporting by Feb. 18.

As a new twist, the Indians will also play two games against the Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas on March 17-18 as a part of the 2018 Las Vegas Big League Weekend.

The Indians open the 2018 regular season on March 29 in Seattle with a three-game series before traveling to Anaheim for a series against the Los Angeles Angels and then to Cleveland for their home opener on April 6 against the Kansas City Royals.

40-man shuffle

The Indians made a series of roster moves on Monday, most of which were aimed at protecting four prospects from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

Infielders Willi Castro, Yu-Cheng Chang and Eric Stamets and right-handed pitcher Julian Merryweather were all added to the 40-man roster, which protects them from the Rule 5 Draft, when teams can raid other clubs’ farm systems for unprotected prospects.

Infielder Rob Refsnyder was also claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

To make room on the 40-man roster for that protection and the single addition, pitchers Kyle Crockett and Dylan Baker were turned into proverbial roster casualties and were designated for assignment.

Crockett appeared in 107 games for the Indians during four big-league seasons, amassing a 3.44 ERA and 1.32 WHIP to go with 62 strikeouts in 65⅓ innings.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians.

According to Browns coach Hue Jackson, defensive lineman Emmanuel Ogbah broke his foot in Sunday’s 19-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer talks about his problems in stringing together consistent performances after his team’s 19-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Cleveland: It’s high noon in the fabled Municipal Lot.

One hour before game time.

Habits die hard here.

And on this blustery day with sleet and winds whipping off the lake, only the die-hards have shown up to party and root for the still winless Browns.

As is tradition, the folks at the Brownout Bus crank up the speakers and blast the national anthem.

The few gathered look left and right.

“Um … the guy who usually brings the American flag isn’t here,” one tailgater sheepishly announced.

So the few patriotic fans along with a couple stragglers passing by all pause and strain their eyes toward the American flag at the Great Lakes Science Center way off to the west.

Kevin Majka, who lives in Cleveland, said the lot back in the winning days would be full by 7 a.m.

On this Sunday there are still parking spaces left as the clock ticks down to kickoff.

His own group of fans should number around 100. Only 10 showed up for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Majka said he gave up his season tickets three years ago.

He still shows up to “party” at the tailgate but heads off to watch the game at a bar in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.

Even there, he admits his heart just isn’t in it as much anymore.

“The game is on, but I barely watch it,” Majka said.

Although the official paid attendance for Sunday’s game was 57,003, the number of empty orange-colored seats far eclipsed those occupied by a mix of Jaguar fans and Browns faithful huddled inside of FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns only disclose the paid attendance and not the number of fans who actually stepped through the turnstiles.

Before the game, tickets for upper deck seats were fetching as little as $5 each — in many instances less than the service charge billed by the online brokers.

Gus Angelone, president of the Pumpkin Patch Browns Backers, has watched firsthand from outside the Barley House in downtown Cleveland as fan interest and dedication has waned as the team struggles to win its first regular-season game since last Christmas Eve.

Earlier in the season, Angelone, who wears a complete Browns No. 31 uniform with a pumpkin head, said fans would be “shoulder-to-shoulder” inside of a fenced area outside of the bar numbering upward of 2,000, with hundreds more waiting to get in.

This Sunday, Angelone said, the fans numbered about 800 and he admits that might be being generous.

A lifelong Browns fan, he said this stretch of winless games is even stretching his team spirit — so it’s no wonder the fair-weather fans have already said “enough is enough” and are staying home.

“Let’s just put it this way,” he said. “If the Browns were good, no one would know who LeBron James is.

“And I love LeBron.”

The notion that this is a football town is not lost on fellow last-fan-standing Sean Watkins, who spent the morning tailgating in a sparse edge of the Municipal Lot.

The season ticket holder since 1999 is one of those few who sticks around until the bitter end.

When rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer fumbled late in the fourth quarter to seal the Browns’ 10th consecutive loss this season, the few thousand left in the 67,895-seat stadium quickly dwindled into the hundreds as the final painful seconds ticked away.

“We’re Browns fans,” Watkins said. “That’s why we come to support them. They are losing — that’s why no one is here.”

But, ever the optimist, Watkins said he hopes the fortune of his team will turn around.

“This is the bottom of the bottom,” the Twinsburg resident said. “We can’t get any lower.

“That would be impossible. Right?”

Craig Webb, who still believes the Browns will win every game, can be reached at [email protected] or 330-996-3547.

Former Cleveland Browns safety Tashaun Gipson discusses his comments and coming too close to losing to his former team.

DETROIT: Jose Calderon has played professional basketball for 20 years, including seven in Spain.

But the 36-year-old still got excited when Cavs coach Tyronn Lue told him to be ready before Friday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I wouldn’t say nervous, it’s been too many times, but I was excited to be out there and help my team,” Calderon said.

Calderon has not played in seven of the Cavs’ 16 games this season. But with the ranks of Cavs’ point guards dwindling by the day, Calderon will start for the second time Monday night against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.

Derrick Rose is out for at least two weeks with a sprained left ankle that will require a walking boot for part of that. Iman Shumpert will miss a week with swelling and soreness in his left knee that forced him out at halftime Friday. Isaiah Thomas looks better every day in drills as he rehabs a torn labrum in his right hip, running in between the 3-point arcs and shooting at both ends of the court Sunday, but is not ready for contact.

Thomas told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that Sunday’s workout was the “hardest I’ve run” and that it “felt good for the most part.” A team source said Thomas has had no setbacks as he tries to beat the Cavs’ initial estimate that he would return by Jan. 1.

But even as Thomas inches closer to playing, that means Calderon, the Cavs’ first free agent signing, will be pressed into service as Lue keeps Dwyane Wade in charge of the second unit.

That means Calderon, the Cavs’ first free-agent signing, will be pressed into service as Lue keeps Dwyane Wade in charge of the second unit.

“We knew at some point we were going to need him,” Lue said of Calderon after practice at Cass Technical High School. “He’s a great veteran to have. He gives us steady minutes and once he gets a feel and gets comfortable out there, I think he’ll be great. He’s getting a big start tomorrow.”

As for what he’s looking for from Calderon, Lue said, “Shoot the basketball, run pick-and-roll, be confident, play his game. Defensively he understands what’s going on. He’s going to be in the right spots and take charges, going to take the challenge.”

The Cavs are missing four key members of their rotation, including center Tristan Thompson, sidelined with a left calf strain. But Lue said several teams in the league are experiencing the same problem.

“There’s a lot of injuries this year. A lot of guys are down. You’ve got to be able to adjust,” Lue said.

LeBron James is the Cavs’ de facto point guard, but Lue said the absence of Rose, Thomas and Shumpert creates issues.

“You can’t run a normal set because if guys are learning the 2 and the 3, to come and play the point guard, you’ve got to condense your package offensively,” Lue said. “Bringing the ball up the court, getting guys in the right spots, the timing, being poised and under control. And then also be able to get guys the ball in the right spot … Kevin [Love], Bron, D-Wade and guys like that. Knowing where they want it, how to get it to them, having the poise and the patience to do it.”

Calderon said he’s been asked why he hasn’t retired, and he answers that he hasn’t lost his passion for the game.

“I’m still playing basketball because I really enjoy it and have fun doing it. If not, I don’t need to be here,” Calderon said. “I could be with my family and relaxing. I play for 13 years here, but I was a professional for seven in Spain, so it’s been awhile. So, yes, I love it.”

Practice time has been limited, but Calderon said he’s stayed after those sessions and shootarounds to try to remain sharp. He’s averaged 6.7 minutes per game, with his season-high 14 at the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 25 when Rose was inactive. Calderon played 10½ minutes Friday, and Wade went 37 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“The most difficult part could be the game rhythm [more] than the physical part or the mental part,” Calderon said. “Three weeks of just sitting there and watching and trying to help your team in a different way and jump in there… but that’s what it is.”

Calderon carries career averages of 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 796 games, shooting 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. But scoring is not his mission, he’s more concerned with keeping the Cavs offense running smoothly.

“I just got to go out there and you don’t have to mess things up,” Calderon said. “Like the other night, you just can’t go and shoot every time. That’s not going to help the team. What I tried to do was organize them, give them good shots. Try to be active on defense with a steal or a charge. Try to get them some movement, some energy.”

Calderon’s defensive limitations might have kept him on the bench, but he will give all he can.

“Whatever system we want to be in, what is the plan for tomorrow, I’ll do that 100 percent,” he said. “That’s what I got to do. Don’t bring these guys down.”

Heavy minutes

Wade turns 36 in January, but said he didn’t feel any unusual effects of Friday’s workload.

“Tired after the game. But you just do your treatment and get ready for the next one. I don’t know until I play the next game,” he said.

“You just wake up the next day and you’re sore, just like any other game when you play a hard game. I appreciate that, though. Appreciate you caring about that.”

Lue might not have intended for Wade to play that many minutes, but said he was going with the hot hand. Against the Clippers, Wade scored 23 points with 11 rebounds and five assists.

Zizic to Charge

The Cavs assigned center Ante Zizic to the NBA G League’s Canton Charge. Acquired in the Thomas trade with the Celtics, Zizic has played in five games, averaging 1.4 points in 4.3 minutes.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

The Browns trailed the Jacksonville Jaguars 10-7 at halftime Sunday in wintry weather at FirstEnergy Stadium despite being outgained 206 yards to 68 through the first two quarters.

The Browns squandered golden opportunities early. Their first two possessions began on the Jaguars’ 48-yard line and their own 45, but they had nothing to show for it.

After rookie running back Matthew Dayes returned the opening kickoff 53 yards t to Jaguars’ 48, the Browns went three-and-out. After Brad Nortman’s 21-yard punt set the Browns up at their 45, linebacker Telvin Smith intercepted rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer’s pass intended for wide receiver Corey Coleman and returned it 26 yards with 8:36 left in the first quarter.

Four plays later, the Jaguars capitalized when quarterback Blake Bortles connected with tight end Marcedes Lewis for a 10-yard touchdown pass, allowing them to go ahead 7-0 with 6:54 remaining in the opening quarter.

On the Browns’ first four possessions, Kizer threw the pick and the offense went three-and-out the other three times. After the last of those three-and-outs, the Jaguars used a 29-yard run by rookie running back Leonard Fournette to march 47 yards in seven plays and set up Josh Lambo’s 38-yard field goal, which gave them a 10-0 advantage with 14:14 left in the second quarter.

The Browns were outgained 107-4 yards in the first quarter, but came to life during their first possession of the second quarter, a five-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Running back Duke Johnson lined up in the slot and caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Kizer, enabling the Browns to trim their deficit to 10-7 with 11:28 left in the second quarter.

Instead of keeping their momentum alive on offense, the Browns went three-and-out on their next two possessions.

The Jaguars drove inside the Browns’ 25 late in the first half and fumbled on back-to-back plays, with the defense failing to recover either one. Shortly thereafter, Lambo attempted a 41-yard field, but he missed it with 30 seconds remaining before halftime.

Jimmy Haslam’s well-documented friendship with Peyton Manning has fueled speculation for years about the owner of the Browns one day trying to hire the legendary quarterback as a top executive.

So with the Browns 1-24 under the regime led by head of football operations Sashi Brown, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and coach Hue Jackson, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that Haslam’s interest in hiring Manning is “very strong and sincere.”

Haslam, Manning and their families have been close since the future Hall of Famer’s days at the University of Tennessee, where Haslam is a major booster.

After Haslam struck a deal to buy the Browns in August 2012, he flirted with the idea of eventually hiring Manning during an interview with the Beacon Journal.

“We’ll see about that,” Haslam said with a laugh. “He’s a great guy, and he’s a very smart, capable guy who’s not just a good football player, but could be good at a lot of different things.”

Manning has made his ambition to run an NFL front office well known, but whether he would want to do so for the Browns is far from certain.

Some close to Manning have discounted the possibility of him coming to Cleveland, La Canfora reported. If Haslam really wanted to sway him, a stake in ownership could be offered.

Meanwhile, Haslam and his wife and co-owner, Dee, met with Browns players Monday. The owners expressed their support and appreciation for how hard the players have worked during another dismal season.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported the meeting and added the Haslams told the players they knew the organization’s rebuilding process would take time. The Haslams have repeatedly sent the same message publicly.

Still, significant organizational changes are expected to be made after this season. Rapoport also reported Jackson wants more say in personnel decisions, but the coach will need to keep his job for any of his wishes to matter anyway.

ESPN.com‘s Rich Cimini reported Brown and DePodesta attended Southern California’s 28-23 win over ULCA on Saturday night, but the executives will also need to avoid pink slips for their evaluations of Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold and Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen to mean anything heading into the offseason.

The Browns announced Corey Coleman is expected to start Sunday against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars in the wide receiver’s first game back from a broken right hand.

Coleman, who missed the past seven games, is slated to start opposite Ricardo Louis and in place of embattled veteran Kenny Britt, who’s been a major disappointment since the Browns signed him in March to a four-year, $32.5 million contract, which includes $10.5 million guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the 0-9 Browns will have their starting offensive line intact against the 6-3 Jaguars, who lead the NFL with 35 sacks.

Right tackle Shon Coleman (concussion) and center JC Tretter (shoulder, knee and quadriceps) will be active and start despite being listed as questionable to play entering the weekend.

Starting cornerback Jamar Taylor (ankle) will be active for the Browns, too, after being listed as questionable.

The following players will be inactive for the Browns: quarterback Kevin Hogan, receiver Bryce Treggs, cornerback Darius Hillary, offensive lineman Marcus Martin, tight end Matt Lengel and defensive linemen T.Y. McGill and Caleb Brantley.

Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette (ankle) will be active despite being listed as questionable.

Cornerback Jalen Myrick, linebacker Blair Brown (hamstring), defensive tackle Eli Ankou, offensive linemen William Poehls, Patrick Omameh (quadriceps) and Jermey Parnell (knee) and receiver Allen Hurns (ankle) will be inactive for the Jaguars.

Josh Wells is expected to start in place of Parnell at right tackle. Chris Reed is set to start at left guard with Omameh out. And Keelan Cole is slated to start at receiver with Hurns sidelined.

The University of Akron learned firsthand Saturday the same thing Kent State discovered Friday.

Florida Gulf Coast has a very good women’s basketball team.

Deep and talented, the Eagles ran off to a big early lead and never looked back in defeating the Zips 82-63 to cap the two-day Akron Classic at Rhodes Arena.

And they handled the Zips in much the same fashion as they did the Golden Flashes in an 80-62 victory Friday.

There was no official champion in the two-day event, but make no mistake: the Eagles would wear the crown after their impressive performance.

“Florida Gulf Coast is the real deal,” Zips coach Jodi Kest said. “They’re a top 25 team. They have so many issues for a lot of teams. They’re very athletic. They can shoot the 3. They make extra passes. They make you play for 30 seconds.”

And Kest had still more praise for the Eagles.

“They defend, they are physical,” she said. “They get out in the passing lanes. They take away a lot of your stuff. So that’s a really good team. We knew we would be challenged today. Our kids enjoy playing those kind of teams. It’s going to help us down the road.”

The Zips (1-2), who defeated Southeastern Louisiana 66-54 Friday night, found themselves in an early hole from which there was no escape. FGCU (4-0) jumped out to an immediate 7-0 lead. And it held Akron scoreless for a 4:38 stretch, building the margin to 22-6.

It grew to 47-26 at halftime and 73-41 after three quarters.

The Zips outscored the Eagles 22-9 in the fourth quarter as some of the young players provided shining moments and made the final margin more palatable.

Nasrin Ulel, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, led FGCU with 18 points and was selected the tourney’s outstanding player. She was one of four Eagles to score in double figures. Ulel hit 5-of-6 from 3-point range and her team made 17-of-40 from long distance.

Megan Sefcik, a 5-10 sophomore guard, led Akron with 13 points and 5-6 freshman guard Destiny Perkins scored 10 points with four assists.

“[We] had an opportunity to play a lot of young kids,” Kest said. “I thought Destiny Perkins did a really good job. I thought Sarah [Leyendecker] did a good job. I thought we did a good job of fighting and not giving up.

“That’s the second time we’ve been down on teams and we continue to fight. So that tells me a lot about my team, and I think we’ll be encouraged after we watch the tape of this game.”

Leyendecker, a 6-4 freshman, scored seven points — 5-of-6 on free throws — and showed some nifty post moves. She also grabbed five rebounds in nine second-half minutes.

“We feel like we have a lot of kids on the bench that can contribute,” Kest said.

Starting point guard Shaunay Edmonds, a 5-4 sophomore, contributed nine points. Haliegh Reinoehl, a 6-1 sophomore forward, led the Zips with seven rebounds after scoring a career-high 21 points in the win over Southeastern Louisiana.

Taylor Gradinjan scored 16 points for FGCU and teammates Jessica Cattani and China Dow both added 11.

COLUMBUS: No. 8 Ohio State can look ahead to Michigan and trying to find the narrow path back into the playoff hunt.

Coach Urban Meyer this week had refused to talk about the future beyond Saturday’s game against Illinois, which ended in a 52-14 blowout by the Buckeyes in sheets of driving rain at Ohio Stadium.

The win, coupled with Wisconsin’s victory over Michigan, made Ohio State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten, CFP No. 9) the Big Ten East champion. If the Buckeyes can beat No. 19 Michigan in the annual rivalry game, and then upset No. 5 Wisconsin, scenarios exist that could see them chosen for the final four, even with two losses.

Unlikely but not impossible.

Illinois presented few problems Saturday. The Buckeyes scored on their first six possessions — including J.T. Barrett’s 100th career touchdown pass — on the way to handing the Illini their ninth consecutive loss.

Barrett, playing in his last game at Ohio Stadium, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Buckeyes dominated from the opening kick.

“Winning in the Big Ten is difficult,” said fifth-year senior center Billy Price, who started his school record 52nd consecutive game. “It’s rugged, it’s physical. So to come out with everybody healthy, getting the victory, playing pretty well, executing at a high level for an offense, it feels good. We’re moving on.”

Ohio State’s defense limited the Illini (2-9, 0-9) to a season-low 105 yards. They didn’t make a first down until near the end of the first half and finished with just five.

Barrett completed 11-of-19 passes for 141 yards, with backups Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow playing most of the second half. Running back Mike Weber picked up 108 yards on 11 carries and scored twice, including on a 43-yard breakaway romp in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes led 28-0 after the first quarter and 38-0 at halftime when heavy rain rolled through Columbus, slowing the pace in a messy second half. They had 543 total yards of offense.

“If you stay in coaching long enough, you have games like this where the [other] team is better than you from start to finish,” Illinois coach Lovie Smith said.

“They dominated us on both sides of the football,” he said. “We had an opportunity early on a third-down play and we got a penalty. It was all downhill from there.”

The takeaway

Illinois: The Illini were hapless as a second disappointing season under Smith drags on. With so many true freshmen on the field, the Big Ten’s worst team had trouble doing anything against the Buckeyes.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes did what they were supposed to do, piling up points on Senior Day. On to Ann Arbor.

Barrett’s home finale

In Barrett’s last home game, he became the Ohio State leader in rushing yards among quarterbacks (3,070), eclipsing Braxton Miller’s total.

The 22-year-old Texan, who now holds 35 Big Ten and school records, was honored along with 18 other seniors in a ceremony before the game.

“There’s a last thing for everything,” Barrett said. “With that, I tried to do my best while playing here at Ohio Stadium.”

Starters go back in

After Haskins fumbled in the third quarter and Illinois’ Ahmari Hayes ran it back for the touchdown, Meyer decided to put his starting offense back in the game as the rain picked up.

It was 38-7 at that point.

“I just didn’t want it to turn into a clown show, which it looked like for a minute,” Meyer said.

“He was very upset,” Barrett said. “I saw him. He’s known for putting his starters back in so I went to find my [knee] braces and my helmet because I didn’t have any of those things.”

The backups eventually went back in.

Quotable

“A video of my mom was up there [on the video board], and I teared up.” — Billy Price on the Senior Day ceremony.

The Browns are determined to keep rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and his bruised ribs away from “Sacksonville,” but their offensive linemen know it’ll be easier said than done.

“We have a great plan, but as Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’ ” center JC Tretter said. “We’ve got to execute it.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) lead the NFL with 35 sacks entering Sunday’s 1 p.m. game against the Browns (0-9) at FirstEnergy Stadium. They’re the third team since 1940 to have at least 10 sacks in multiple games in a single season, racking up 10 in a 29-7 win over the Houston Texans on Sept. 10 and 10 in a 27-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 22.

Celebrating its pass-rushing prowess, the team has fully embraced the nickname “Sacksonville” and even uses it in its Twitter profile.

None of it sounds good for the Browns, especially because Kizer suffered bruised ribs in last week’s 38-24 loss to the Detroit Lions when rookie tight end David Njoku missed an assignment in pass protection, allowing cornerback Quandre Diggs to deliver a direct shot with his helmet to the right side of Kizer’s chest.

Kizer left his best NFL outing with six seconds remaining in the third quarter and the score tied 24-24. When he returned with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter, the Lions were ahead by two touchdowns after sacking backup quarterback Cody Kessler three times in seven snaps.

“Every week, it’s a goal to protect the quarterback,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “That’s our No. 1 goal on offense. Last week, [Kizer] took a shot that was — to see him get up from that is impressive still. But he’s a little banged up, and you don’t want him to ever take another shot like that.”

The Jaguars are ranked third in the league with 65 quarterback hits. They racked up 20 against Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the most in an NFL game since 2006.

“They’re really good,” Bitonio said. “They have some good guys. But we’re going to go out there and we’re going to compete. And we’re not intimidated by them.”

Known for his power at 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Calais Campbell leads them and is second in the NFL with 11 sacks. Fellow defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue (6½ sacks) and Dante Fowler (5½ sacks) are speed rushers. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson (four sacks) can bring pressure up the middle along with Campbell, who often moves inside in the nickel package.

The Jaguars, ranked first in fewest points allowed (14.9 per game) and third in fewest yards surrendered (285.8 yards a game) leaguewide, move their defensive linemen around to different spots.

“They just kind of look for matchups,” Bitonio said.

Instead of blitzing frequently, the Jaguars typically rely on their four-man front to pressure the quarterback. Stellar coverage from a secondary led by cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, free safety Tashaun Gipson, a former Browns standout, and strong safety Barry Church is a key ingredient to their success.

“They have good corners, good secondary play. Gipson is playing well,” coach Hue Jackson said. “They’re able to play man coverage on people, which gives their [pass] rush more of an opportunity to get there.”

What makes the matchup even more daunting for the Browns is the health of their offensive line. The Browns are optimistic starting right tackle Shon Coleman will be able to play after spending this past week in concussion protocol. But if Coleman isn’t medically cleared, rookie Zach Banner will start instead. Like Coleman, Tretter is listed as questionable to play, but he said he’ll be good to go despite dealing with shoulder, knee and quadriceps injuries. Coleman and Tretter sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday.

“It’s definitely tough anytime you’re a little banged up,” Bitonio said.

The Browns, though, are hoping to neutralize the Jaguars’ pass rushers with a strong running game and an assist from Mother Nature. With temperatures in the 30s and a chance of snow or rain in the forecast, the ground game should be at the forefront, and the Browns are coming off a season-high 201 rushing yards, albeit in another loss.

“Anything that slows down a defensive lineman, whether it’s rain, cold weather, whatever it is, we’re all for it,” Tretter said. “As it gets colder and we know we want to run the ball, which is another thing offensive linemen love to do, it just kind of gets in our wheelhouse of everything going in the direction we want to be going.”

“The snow definitely helps the O-line,” left tackle Spencer Drango said. “It slows down the pass rush a little bit if they can’t get their footing. Wet grass, all that stuff does, too. But cold weather games, it’s notoriously been run-centered, so we’re taking that to heart. We’re going to buckle down, do our jobs and get the ball moving.”

Roster move

The Browns signed wide receiver Kasen Williams to the practice squad after waiving him Thursday to activate Corey Coleman off injured reserve.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ .