The Cleveland Browns have been trying to make the best of a bad situation while star cornerback Joe Haden fulfills his four-game suspension, but the secondary will face a tough test on Thursday Night Football against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens' offense. The biggest surprise from the Ravens has been the emergence of Torrey Smith as a legitimate top option in the offense. Smith's speed has allowed Flacco to stretch opposing defenses with down field throws, and that duo has already connected on 10 passes for a whopping 235 yards and two touchdowns. Smith has posted a gaudy 23.5 yards-per-reception average through the first three games, which is the second-highest average in the NFL.
SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature, has a great breakdown of the challenges that Cleveland's secondary will face on Thursday. Here is a small taste of that story:
It's not an excuse, but Haden's absence is still a factor worth acknowledging. Without his presence shutting down opposing No. 1 targets, the Browns' secondary has had some serious struggles in the last two games. After being pushed into a major role, Dimitri Patterson has been inadequate, despite fantastic individual coverage last season. He and the rest of the secondary need to tighten up for a chance to compete against Baltimore's talented, fast-paced offense.
The Browns and Ravens will play at 8:20 p.m. ET on the NFL Network.