Haden hopes to limit Bengals' Green
BEREA, Ohio — As the Cleveland Browns attempt to avoid breaking the record for the longest losing streak in franchise history, the return of cornerback Joe Haden might be exactly what they need.
Haden returned Monday from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He believes his comeback has given the Browns (0-5) renewed energy that could pay off when they host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“I could tell out there at practice,” Haden said. “I don't know how it was when I wasn't here, but since I'm back, we're up, just amped. We're hyped.”
All eyes will be on Haden. His matchup with standout wide receiver A.J. Green figures to be a deciding factor in the 79th Battle of Ohio. Haden plans to follow Green in coverage for the majority of the game, if not the entire time.
Last week, Green became the first player in NFL history to eclipse 100 catches, 1,500 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions in his first 20 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. In three games against the Browns, Green has 11 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns, including a 10-yard score in Week 2, when the Bengals defeated the Browns, sans Haden, 34-27, in Cincinnati.
“You're not going to able to hold A.J. Green to zero catches,” Haden said. “You definitely know he's going to get his sometimes, but I feel I'm going to get mine, also.”
The showdowns between Haden and Green started during their college days. When Haden starred at Florida, he went 2-0 against Green and Georgia. They renewed their rivalry last season in the AFC North with Green and the Bengals prevailing in both meetings.
“He knows what I do, and I know what he does,” Green, the fourth pick in last year's draft, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He knows my strength. (It's) just a battle. We are just going to be out there grinding.”
Haden, the seventh pick in 2010, said he hopes the Bengals take shots at him to test whether he's rusty. He spent much of the downtime training at his family's gym in Maryland.
“I wasn't just in the house just eating chips and stuff,” Haden said. “I was doing what I needed to do,”
The Browns also lost 11 in a row in 1974-75. If they lose Sunday, they would set a new franchise record with 12 consecutive defeats.