When the Ravens and Browns squared off earlier this season, both teams found out just hours before kickoff that Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson wouldn't be playing. The Ravens proceeded to feast on rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in a 28-3 victory.
Sunday's rematch at M&T Bank Stadium will be different, at least in terms of who is playing quarterback, as Watson's sore throwing shoulder has healed and he's fully expected to play.
It will be Watson's first game at M&T Bank Stadium as a Cleveland Brown, and considering he's on a five-year fully guaranteed contract, it will be the first of many. The Ravens defense wants to give him the appropriate welcome.
"Good veteran quarterback. Been in the league for a while. Got a lot of respect for him," linebacker Roquan Smith said. "A guy that can let it rip and he's able to use his legs as well. We'll be very prepared for it.
"This is our territory. This is our Bank. We've got to protect our money. We've got to do that by any means necessary. We're definitely going to welcome him here and lock the gates and then we're going to slug it out. However it happens, it's going to happen, but I like us."
Watson played at M&T Bank Stadium in 2019 as a member of the Houston Texans. The Ravens routed them, 41-7, and sacked Watson six times and picked him off once.
This is a different year and different team, however, and Watson is coming off one of his better games as a Brown, completing 19 of 30 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals last week.
"Deshaun is a playmaker," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's going to do it on time with the rhythm passing and the quick game. He can do it with play action – the boots and the play action stuff off of their zone run game – and then he can do it as far as extending the play, both as far as running, and then also, he does a really good job on the run to find receivers when he's moving out of the pocket. So [he's a] playmaking quarterback."
Watson may be on the move a lot Sunday, as the Browns have injury concerns at offensive tackle. They lost left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. last week, were already without starting right tackle Jack Conklin, and his right tackle replacement, Dawand Jones, is dealing with knee/shoulder injuries. Baltimore leads the league in sacks (35) and the Browns have given up the league's ninth-most sacks (24).
The Ravens know Watson will lay it on the line to try to make plays, even if he's under intense pressure.
"He can put the ball anywhere on the field, he can run. He does not want to slide, so anytime you've got a quarterback that's willing to lower that shoulder, that's a huge threat to your defense," linebacker Patrick Queen said.
"We've just got to go out there and play our game, honestly. It could be any quarterback in the league that goes out there. It's up to us, what we want to do, how we want to be remembered, how we want to play, how we want the defense to look when we play the Cleveland Browns."
Odafe Oweh Is Excelling By Keeping His Mind Clear
Since returning from his ankle injury, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has two sacks in three games and is generating pressure at a high rate.
Oweh credited his play with keeping a clear mind before the snap.
"Just trying to have as empty of a mind as I can when I'm rushing the passer – not thinking about too many things except the things [Outside Linebackers Coach] Chuck [Smith] has taught me," Oweh said.
Oweh said that earlier in his career, he would have too much going through his head from studying tendencies of offensive tackles and specific moves/counters he wanted to hit. While Smith has helped the rushers with their moves, Oweh said he's also learned from Jadeveon Clowney to just let it rip and play full speed all the time without thinking as much.
Oweh also said it's a "blessing" that he's able to be back on the field at all.
"There are guys that can't be out there and got hurt. I think about my brothers like Ojabo and I just try to go out there and play as hard as I can," Oweh said. "I'm very blessed to be able to come back and help the team win games."
Keaton Mitchell Staying Grounded After Breakout Performance
Rookie running back Keaton Mitchell has a tough act to follow, after his breakout 138-yard performance in Week 9, which included a 40-yard touchdown run and a 60-yard scamper.
His cell phone has been blowing up, and Mitchell won't be sneaking up on the Browns or anyone else. However, Mitchell is staying grounded, knowing that Cleveland's No. 1-ranked defense will be prepared for his breakaway speed.
"I know it's going to be a tough, physical game and we'll be ready for it," Mitchell said. "I approach every week the same – work hard, watch film, prepare. Every team is a good team – it's not college."
Mitchell made the most of his nine carries against the Seahawks, and hopes he'll continue to get touches in the second half of the season.
"Whatever coach throws at me, just be ready," Mitchell said. "They said they were going to give me the ball a little bit more (against the Seahawks). Obviously, I came out hot and they just rode me."
Mitchell was asked what advice his father, former Ravens safety Anthony Mitchell, gave his son about handling success.
"He told you've got the 24-hour rule," Mitchell said. "Enjoy it for 24 hours then let it go."
Mitchell didn't know that he had been voted the NFL's FedEx Ground Player of the Week until he was informed by a reporter.
"It's a good feeling. Hopefully, there's more to come," he said.
John Harbaugh Isn't Worried About Former Ravens Sharing Intel with Browns
The Browns have two players who have been with the Ravens recently – wide receiver James Proche II and running back Kenyon Drake. Proche was one of the final roster cuts in August after playing three seasons with Baltimore, while Drake was with the Ravens last season and played for them in Week 3 against the Colts before he was released and signed by the Browns.
Proche was signed to the Browns' 53-man roster this week and is in line to play back at M&T Bank Stadium. Drake remains on their practice squad.
Proche and Drake are familiar with how Baltimore prepares to face Cleveland and will undoubtedly share that information this week. However, Harbaugh isn't concerned about the intel that Proche and Drake will provide.
"You're changing from week to week so much in terms of the plays that you actually run and the way you run them," Harbaugh said. "Any kind of code words or signals, or anything like that, you're always protecting those. You're always changing them, so I don't think that's going to be an issue one way or the other."