MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – A pair of road losses against two of the league’s top teams have not taken anything away from the Miami Dolphins confidence level.
The Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback carousel makes its fifth turn in as many contests and 26th in 17 years on Sunday as third-round rookie Cody Kessler gets the nod against the Miami Dolphins at renovated Hard Rock Stadium.
Offseason acquisition Robert Griffin III suffered a season-ending injury in the opening loss to Philadelphia and Josh McCown also departed with a left shoulder ailment in Cleveland’s 25-20 setback to Baltimore last week.
Kessler’s task will be that much harder after promising rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman sustained a hand injury in practice on Wednesday.
While the Browns saw an 18-point lead evaporate last week, the Dolphins nearly crawled back from a 28-point deficit in the second half before dropping a 31-24 decision to New England.
“I don’t know if momentum carries over,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said, “but that feeling we had, just the confidence that we gained throughout that second half of, ‘This is how it’s supposed to be, this is how we can play when things are clicking.'”
Tannehill clicked in his last meeting with Cleveland, throwing for 272 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 23-10 victory on Sept. 8, 2011.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Dolphins -10. O/U: 42.5
ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-2): For all of the gloom and doom in Cleveland’s offense, Isaiah Crowell has run roughshod over opponents with touchdowns in three straight games and five of six after his career-long 85-yard score last week versus the Ravens.
The 23-year-old finished with 133 yards and looks to exploit the Dolphins’ 30th-ranked defense that has surrendered 136.5 per game this season.
Then again, Cleveland’s 205.0 yards passing per game ranks 27th and the loss of Coleman (team-high 173 yards, two touchdowns) leaves converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins as Kessler’s primary threats while Josh Gordon continues to serve a four-game suspension.
ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (0-2): While Cleveland’s ground game has excelled, Miami’s 27th-ranked rushing attack has gone nowhere fast — and offseason acquisition Arian Foster’s groin injury certainly won’t help matters.
A combination of Jay Ajayi, rookie Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams is expected to carry the mail for the Dolphins, whose leading rusher is actually Tannehill (52 yards).
Top target Jarvis Landry had 10 receptions for 137 yards last week and leads the NFL with 17 catches, but former first-round wideout DeVante Parker (eight receptions, 106 yards in his season debut) has been limited in practice this week with an ailing hamstring.
- Browns coach Hue Jackson had his scheduled interview cancelled with Miami in January as the Dolphins targeted Adam Gase, who turned down the opportunity to interview in Cleveland in 2013.
- Pro Bowl TE Jordan Cameron, who scored a touchdown last week, will face his former team for the first time since departing the Browns in free agency last season.
- Cleveland has lost 10 of its last 11 road games.
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