Browns vs. Colts: Rookies to Watch on Sunday
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Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden both desperately need wins this week in order to stay relevant this season.
The Colts, coming off of a 2-14 season last year, cleaned house over the off-season and are looking for their new talent to revive them back to their former glory from a few years ago.
The Browns, coming off of a 4-12 season last year, are looking to lose their reputation as one of the consistently bad teams of the last two decades.
Both teams are using a lot of young players this season, including quite a few rookies.
Here are the rookies to keep an eye on for Sunday.
Weeden is steadily improving as the season progesses
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Brandon Weeden has been showing signs of improvement with each passing week.
Weeden had a rough start to the season, throwing for four interceptions against the Eagles. He has since improved, only throwing six interceptions.
Weeden was also able to pick up his first career win last week against the Bengals. He threw for 231 yards, two scores, and only one interception.
Weeden's impact in this game might be overshadowed this week by the running game. The Colts allow the third fewest passing yards per game, but fourth most rushing yards. However, the Colts defense has only had two interceptions this season. So while Weeden may not be asked to pass much, he does have room to be a little more risky if he does throw.
Richardson could have a big game against Indy this week
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Trent Richardson has had an underwhelming rookie season up to this point.
Richardson's expectations going into his first season were very high. At this point, he is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry, one of the lowest for starting running backs. He is, however, finding the end zone, with five total touchdowns so far.
Richardson's numbers could turn around this week. He is going up against a defense that has allowed 5.0 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. With Richardson's physical play, he should have no problem picking up some big runs against this weaker run-defense.
Gordon has become an explosive player
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Josh Gordon was an unconventional pickup for the Cleveland Browns.
Gordon was selected by Cleveland in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. In fact, Gordon was the ONLY player selected in the supplemental draft.
It appears that the Browns' risk paid off in selecting him.
Gordon's breakout game was against the New York Giants. While he only had two catches for the day, both were for touchdowns. The first was a 62-yard bomb from Weeden to put the Browns up 14-0 in the first quarter. His second was for 20 yards near the end of the game.
Gordon is currently the league leader in yards per catch at 22.8. His explosive plays have given Brandon Weeden a new favorite target downfield.
While the Colts offense hasn't allowed many big plays, Gordon might be able to change that.
It's time for Ballard to step up
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With the injury to Donald Brown, it appears that Vick Ballard is the number one back for Indianapolis.
The Colts selected Ballard in the fifth round out of Mississippi State. His two years at Mississippi State were impressive, running for over 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Ballard hasn't done much in the running game up to this point. However, his team is going up against the eighth worst rushing defense in the league this week. With a little bit of help from the offensive line, Ballard might be able to play a big role in tomorrow's game.
Fleener has more chemistry with Luck than anyone on the team
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Fleener has the opportunity to be a threat to Cleveland this week.
Andrew Luck's former teammate has more chemistry with the young quarterback than anyone else on the team due to their time together at Stanford. Fleener and fellow rookie Dwayne Allen have been complementing each other as the two tight ends for this Colts' offense.
Fleener has yet to score a touchdown this season, but that could change this week. The Colts will be facing a weak pass defense that has allowed 294 passing yards per game, third worst in the league. With enough passes going Fleener's way, it feels that he could break the goal line this week.
You couldn't have this list without Andrew Luck
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You couldn't make this list and not have Andrew Luck on it.
The rookie that went first overall in this year's draft has had a very average start to this season. He has played in five games so far, and has had seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. His completion percentage is 53.4%. These numbers are almost the definition of average.
Luck has a good chance to add another win this week to bring his team to .500. The Browns' pass defense is weak, and the Colts are still motivated by their hospitalized coach, Chuck Pagano.
If the Colts can get at least some kind of running game going this week, it will take a lot of pressure off of Luck when he drops back. If they can do that, expect big things from Luck and the passing game this week.