NFL Week 2 Scouting Report: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Steel City Underground will provide fans in Steelers Nation a pre-game scouting report of each of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opponents during each week of the 2023 NFL regular season, comprised of items from top storylines and insights.

The season opener didn’t go the way the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted it to, as they were beaten decisively by the San Francisco 49ers. In Week 2 of the 2023 NFL regular season, they host the Cleveland Browns at Acrisure Stadium for Monday Night Football. The Browns beat the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 by a score of 24-3 in an upset most in the NFL hadn’t predicted. In this Week 2 scouting report, we look at the storylines surrounding the Browns, including player news and insights that could impact their play against the Steelers.

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Harris among Browns on injury report

Cleveland has three defensive tackles that showed up on their injury report for Week 2. Shelby Harris (Achilles), Maurice Hurst (hamstring), and rookie Siaki Ika (foot) were listed when the report came out on Thursday. Although the final status for game-time won’t be announced until later, there is some concern that the defensive line could be thin on Monday night.

The biggest injury news for the Browns was the loss of offensive tackle Jack Conklin. In the Week 1 game against the Bengals, Conklin was carted off the field and it was later determined that he’d suffered a season-ending tear to both his ACL and MCL and was placed on the injured/reserved list. The Browns pulled offensive guard Michael Dunn from their practice squad as a result. Offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe was signed to the practice squad, as was defensive tackle Tommy Togiai. As a result, cornerback Lorenzo Burns was released.

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Will the depth chart change before Monday night?

The unofficial depth chart was released by the Browns early in the week, so it will be interesting to see what moves – if any – are made before kickoff. Cleveland has Michael Dunn listed behind Joel Bitonio at left guard, with rookie Dawand Jones at right tackle and Wyatt Teller at right guard. They have no backups listed behind any of the players already mentioned.

Jones is a big lineman who will face a true test when it comes to squaring off against Steelers EDGE T.J. Watt.  He’ll need the help of Teller to keep Watt from becoming a wrecking ball to Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland offense on that side of the line. In a media interview this week, Jones said,

“I think they’ll probably put (Watt) a majority on my side just because I’m younger, a rookie. (The Steelers are) going to try to definitely make me a target. I have to step up to the plate, step up to the challenge.”

It’s unlikely that Pittsburgh would have even considered moving Watt away from his usual spot with the success Alex Highsmith has had on the other side of the line, so the statement seems a bit strange and possibly motivated as a response to media questioning more than anything. Or, maybe it’s a little bit of head coach Kevin Stefanski focusing a ton on the rookie in an effort to boost his morale.

Jones definitely is a guy that the Steelers defense is going to need to address as the Browns try to get Nick Chubb‘s ground game going and if they hope to get pressure in the offensive backfield.

Defensively, the biggest questions surrounding the depth chart already released will be whether Dalvin Tomlinson and Jordan Elliott truly will be the starting defensive tackles over Hurst and Harris.


Will taunting really become the calling card of the Browns D

Myles Garrett dancing before a play seems like no big deal. His teammate, Ogbo Okoronkwo commented on the video of the play (above) but has also said, “In Jim Schwartz we trust. I mean, it’s all about Jim Schwartz.” And what is Schwartz’s mindset?

“He tells us all the time, we’re going to lead the league in badassery,” cornerback Greg Newsome II

Schwartz is looking for the things that don’t show up on a stats sheet. “We’re going to try to lead the league in effort… passion for the game and things like that,” he said in August. He expects his defense to celebrate each others’ efforts. Anyone not involved is considered to be “loafing” according to players under Schwartz.

As for News 5 Cleveland’s Camryn Justice who reported on the “celebrations,” here’s her response to how she thinks the NFL should see extracurricular activities in games.

No, Justice doesn’t work for the Cleveland Browns organization. No, we’re not suggesting her thoughts mirror those of Jim Schwartz. We can see a correlation between her social media post on “X” and Schwartz’ statements that it is his job, and his players’ responsibility, to find their personality and accentuate that. “I’ve never been around a good team or a good defense that didn’t have a personality.” Now, the question becomes how far Schwartz allows the Browns defense to go when it comes to personality, and if mocking or taunting opponents overcomes celebrating each other as teammates. Time will answer that question.


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