Cleveland Browns: Colt McCoy, Rookies Set To Highlight Week 7 Matchup Vs. Saints
Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy is set to make his second career start when the Browns travel to New Orleans to play the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Sunday.
However, McCoy is not the only Browns rookie who is poised to make an impact in the Browns final game before the bye-week.
The 2010 NFL draft was regarded as one of the most talent-heavy drafts in recent memory, and the Browns were happy to get in on the action.
For the Browns, the 2010 draft class appears to be living up to the hype. Including McCoy, the Browns currently have three rookies playing significant roles for the team, with two more rookies likely to debut against the Saints.
The following is a look at the Browns rookies and the impact that they might have this Sunday in a game that could give fans a glimpse at the future for the Cleveland Browns.
CB Joe Haden
J. Meric/Getty Images
In the first round, with the seventh overall pick, the Browns selected Florida cornerback Joe Haden.
After Haden logged a disappointing 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine, many expert felt that he was an overrated player, but the rookie has played remarkably well in every game this season.
Haden has been most utilized at the nickel back position, but the recent struggles of cornerback Eric Wright have led many to believe that he could soon be in position to take over a starting role.
Wright will have his hands full this Sunday, going up against a Drew Brees-led passing attack that features several talented receivers such as Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore.
FS T.J. Ward
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
When the Cleveland Browns selected Oregon Safety T.J. Ward with the 38th overall pick, many "experts" felt that it was a reach for a player who would never develop into an NFL star.
However, Ward is quickly proving to be the right selection for a Browns team looking to build a physical identity on defense.
The hard-hitting safety has recorded an impressive 54 tackles through the first six games of the season and appears to be every bit the enforcer in the secondary that the Browns were hoping he would be.
Ward is quickly earning a reputation for his physical play, but he is vastly underrated in pass coverage. He will likely spend much of Sunday's game mirroring the Saints' star tight end Jeremy Shockey in addition to his duties roaming the middle of the secondary.
QB Colt McCoy
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
After a he took a surprising fall in the draft, the Browns landed Texas superstar quarterback Colt McCoy late in the third round with the 85th overall pick.
McCoy was expected to be a project at quarterback and was not supposed to play in 2010, however injuries to QBs Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace forced him into the starting role last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On the road, against a stout defense, McCoy played better than expected in his NFL debut. Despite being sacked five times and under constant pressure, McCoy responded by keeping his poise and going 23 of 33 for 281 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions off of tipped balls.
McCoy's first NFL performance was good enough to earn him a second consecutive start this week against the Saints.
The New Orleans defense will provide another difficult test for McCoy. The Saints run a variety of schemes and blitz packages which could confuse the young quarterback and force him into making mistakes.
The Saints currently rank seventh in defense against the pass and have forced four interceptions this season.
Should McCoy put forth another solid performance this week, it could make for a very compelling case to keep him as the starter following the bye week.
OL Shawn Lauvao
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Likely to make his first career start this week is the Browns' other third-round pick, OL Shawn Lauvao, taken with the 92nd overall pick.
With the placing of Tony Pashos on injured reserve, guard Floyd Womack will most likely move over to right tackle. This would open up a spot at right guard for Lauvao, who finally appears healthy after spending the first part of the season in a walking boot.
At 6'3" and 315 pounds, Lauvao is a strong, physical offensive lineman who also has the versatility to play several positions along the line. During a standout college career at Arizona State, Lauvao started games at left tackle, left guard and right tackle.
Lauvao will be called upon to help open up holes for running backs Peyton Hillis and Mike Bell as they try to smash through the Saints' 15th-ranked run defense.
WR Carlton Mitchell
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Also likely to see his first regular-season NFL action this week is rookie wideout Carlton Mitchell, taken with the 177th overall pick, in the sixth round out of South Florida.
Mitchell is a very athletic receiver and brings an ideal combination of size and speed to the wide receiver position. However, Mitchell is a bit of a project and his struggles to run routes and hang onto passes have kept him on the inactive list thus far in 2010.
Starting receiver Mohamed Massaquoi will likely miss the game after suffering a concussion last week against the Steelers, giving Mitchell the opportunity to get on the field.
It has been reported that Mitchell has already developed solid chemistry with quarterback Colt McCoy and it should be fun to finally see the pair in a regular-season contest.
Saints' cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer both missed practice this week, meaning the Browns could be able to take advantage by passing downfield. Porter has been ruled out, while Greer is listed as questionable.
Mitchell is quite possibly the fastest receiver on the Browns' roster and he could be used early in an attempt to stretch the Saints' defense.