CLEVELAND – The Browns’ run defense, which allowed 243 yards to the Giants last week, will be without two key members today against the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf), who had started 41 straight games, and linebacker Scott Fujita (neck/shoulder) are inactive. Rookie John Hughes will start for Rubin, and rookie James-Michael Johnson for Fujita.
Hughes has played a lot in the first five games – all losses – but this will be his first start. Johnson hasn’t played a defensive snap. He was inactive the first four games with a knee injury and played solely on special teams last week.
Rubin was injured late in the loss to the Giants. Fujita was limited Wednesday but said he’d play, then didn’t practice Thursday or Friday.
The Browns, who are looking to end a franchise-record-tying 11-game losing streak, should get a boost from the return of cornerback Joe Haden from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing-drug policy. But the Browns will miss nickelback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), who will be replaced by Buster Skrine.
As expected, the Browns deactivated receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin, who have hamstring injuries. Massaquoi will miss his third straight game, Benjamin his second.
Rookie Josh Gordon will start for Massaquoi for the second straight week. He had his first two touchdown catches against the Giants.
This will be the final game before NFL owners are expected to approve the sale of the Browns from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam III on Tuesday in Chicago.
The other Browns inactives: safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) and offensive lineman Ryan Miller (coach’s decision).
The Bengals inactives: Cornerbacks Jason Allen and Dre Kirkpatrick, receivers Mohamed Sanu and Ryan Whalen, safety George Iloka, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson and tight end Richard Quinn.
PETRAK’S PREDICTION: Browns 24, Bengals 23.