Scouting Report: Browns host Steelers in Week 11

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.

In Week 11 of the 2023 NFL regular season, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers will meet for their second time in divisional play. In Week 2, the Steelers were able to secure a victory and are 6-3. The Browns have remained competitive themselves and enter Sunday’s AFC North game with a 6-3 record as well. We look at the top conversations being held by – and about – the Browns ahead of kickoff.

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Watson season is over

The Browns took a big risk sinking the fate of their franchise into the incredibly expensive deal that brought embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson to Cleveland. He suffered a shoulder injury early in the season, opening the door for rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson and backup QB P.J. Walker to lead the offense in his absence.

Watson reportedly played hurt in Week 10’s comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens, but that game was the most time he’d spent on the field for weeks. Browns fans expressed a mix of emotions.

Kevin Stefanski announced that Thompson-Robinson will get the nod as starting QB against Pittsburgh. He hasn’t gotten to attempt a pass since Week 8 (he was 1-of-1), and as last-minute starter for Watson in Week 4 completed just over 52 percent of his passes for 121 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. Cleveland called up Walker the following week.

How the offense will operate moving forward is an intangible for Cleveland, and with the free agency signing period closed it may be difficult to find another viable QB to come in should Robinson or Walker stumble or fall. They’ll undoubtedly still reach out.

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Defense is catalyst for team’s success

If it weren’t for the defense, the Browns would be in much more familiar territory: a season that tanked after the offense took too many hits, especially at quarterback. The injuries have piled up, as well.

The Browns allowed a season-high 17 first downs to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. In four games this season, they allowed opponents fewer than ten first down conversions. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has helped Cleveland slow opponents.

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Wednesday injury report

Many of the players that were designated as non-injury related on Wednesday are still rehabbing minor injuries, so the “rest” may all that is needed. With such a long injury lost, however, it will be worth keeping an eye on the official Browns injury report all week to kickoff.

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