Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-7)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS (Dick Enberg, Randy Cross)
SERIES: 25th regular-season meeting. Browns lead, 13-11. The Browns hold the series edge, but they have beaten the Colts only once in seven games since 1992 when they won 21-14 in 1994. The Browns beat the Colts six straight times between 1978 and 1986. Cleveland has never beaten Indianapolis since the Colts drafted Peyton Manning. Manning is 4-0 against them.
PREDICTION: Colts 30-23
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts have spent the week talking about how difficult it can be to move the ball against the Browns' 27th-ranked defense. The reality is the Browns have just 15 sacks on the season and their secondary doesn't run deep enough to stick with WRs Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez and TE Dallas Clark if QB Peyton Manning has time in the pocket. Cleveland's best chance is for NT Shaun Rogers to take advantage of backup rookie C Jamey Richard and at least take RB Joseph Addai out of the game. ... QB Derek Anderson is back under center, but facing the Colts' high-powered offense and with snow flurries possible, the Browns' offense is likely to be more run-based than normal. Look for RB Jamal Lewis to get at least 20 carries, with speedy backup Jerome Harrison also significantly involved in the game plan. Cleveland needs to play keepaway to protect its defense, and the Colts allow 136.8 rushing yards per game.
KEY INJURIES: Colts: LT Tony Ugoh (quadriceps) is uncertain; SS Bob Sanders (knee) is likely out; C Jeff Saturday (calf) is out. Browns: S Sean Jones (ankle) should play; QB Brady Quinn (finger) is out.
FAST FACTS: Colts WR Marvin Harris has averaged 118 receiving yards in three career games at Cleveland. ... Browns WR Braylon Edwards has been charged with 17 dropped passes this season.
--WR Roy Hall (knee/hamstring) has returned to practice. Hall took part in workouts Wednesday and Thursday. He is not, however, expected to play Sunday against Cleveland.
--WR Reggie Wayne was allowed to sit out Thursday's practice in order to rest old injuries. Wayne should be back for Friday's workout and start against the Browns on Sunday.
--DE Dwight Freeney was given Wednesday off to rest old injuries. But he returned for Thursday's workout and will start at Cleveland on Sunday.
--DE Robert Mathis returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday in order to rest old injuries. Mathis will start against the Browns on Sunday.
--S Melvin Bullitt (ankle) practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's workout. Bullitt is expected to start against Cleveland on Sunday if Bob Sanders is unable to play.
-- The injury to Brady Quinn leaves the Browns with Derek Anderson and Ken Dorsey as their only healthy quarterbacks. To have some insurance they signed Richard Bartell from Tarleton State to the practice squad. Bartell signed with Dallas as an undrafted rookie in 2007 and spent the season on the Cowboys' practice squad.
-- The Browns are loaded with tight ends. Darnell Dinkins is nursing a sprained ankle and has not practiced this week, so the Browns have filled the roster vacancy created when Quinn was placed on injured reserve with Jed Collins, an undrafted rookie from Washington State who spent time this season on the practice squads of the Eagles and Bears. Kellen Winslow Jr., Steve Heiden and Martin Rucker are also on the roster as tight ends.
-- SS Sean Jones was limited in practice Thursday with an ankle injury.
-- NT Shaun Rogers was limited in practice Thursday because of a sore shoulder.
-- DE Corey Williams was limited in practice Thursday with a foot injury.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
As things stand now, safety Bob Sanders remains doubtful to play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Sanders, who has only played in four of the team's 11 games this season, has been bothered by swelling in his right knee.
"He did not practice. I don't think he'll practice (today)," coach Tony Dungy said. "I said (Wednesday) he was doubtful. I doubted he would play. And (Thursday) I'm saying there's a better chance than I thought."
Team president Bill Polian has not set a timetable for when Sanders is expected to return. But when he does come back, don't expect to see any change in the way that 2007 Defensive Player of the Year conducts his business on the field or in practice.
"As to getting him back, we will do our level best to get him back there, but it is a function solely of Mother Nature. We can adapt his practice schedule. We can adapt his workout schedule. In the end, when his knee quiets down, he'll be back out there. We're never going to put a player out there if he is not able to defend himself, if he is not able to play well enough to avoid further injury," Polian said recently on his weekly radio show.
"If Bob does not have the swelling gone out of his knee, we're not going to put him out there. It's that simple. Whoever else plays is going to have to play and play well. Melvin Bullitt has done that for the last little while and I fully expect he'll continue to do that, because he's a good player. But the idea that Bob can someone slow himself down to the point where he can just tap people and knock them down or whatever to avoid injury is not realistic."
The Browns are trying to get through 2008, but if Romeo Crennel is not fired after the season his quarterback next year will be Brady Quinn.
Quinn sat for a season and a half, broke a finger and damaged a tendon in the first quarter of his first NFL start and then made two more starts. The injury has landed him on injured reserve, and now he is deciding whether to have his finger surgically repaired or let it heal naturally. Doctors with different opinions have advised each option.
With Quinn out of the picture, Derek Anderson will start against the Colts on Sunday in Cleveland and presumably the remaining four games. Even if Anderson goes 5-0, Quinn would still be the No. 1 quarterback in training camp next summer.
"I've decided Quinn is going to be the starter, and Quinn is going to be the starter," Crennel said. "I'm impressed with what the kid has done on the football field, off the football field, the way he handles himself, the way he's run the team, not getting rattled, keeping his composure, being able to manage the game -- I like all that about him. I like the kid a lot."
The Browns, 4-7, were 3-5 when Anderson was benched. Anderson talked about his second chance as a starter. He wasn't thrilled about losing the job the way he did after putting up 27 points against the Ravens on Nov. 2 and he wasn't jumping up and down about starting again at the expense of Quinn's broken finger.
"It's just an opportunity to play," Anderson said. "That's just the way this business goes. I'm not worried about next year. I'm really not. If I'm here, I'm here. I'll give it everything I've got. If I'm somewhere else, I'm somewhere else. When that time comes, I'll deal with it."
Anderson is signed through 2010. The Browns owe him a $5 million bonus if he is on the roster on March 1. It seemed a foregone conclusion one of the quarterbacks would be traded in the offseason, but Crennel said both could be back in 2009.
This past summer, Anderson entered camp as the starter. Quinn complained mildly about not having a chance to compete for the job. Quinn said he was upset and surprised when he was pulled out of the game against Houston with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
Crennel's promise Quinn would be the starter in 2009 might be reassuring, but Quinn says he has a lot to work on. Before he can do that, he has to decide whether to have surgery.
"It's something I'm praying about a lot and trying to get a chance for my family to talk about it as well and figure what's going to be best," Quinn said. "I'm not one to make excuses. Clearly, I wouldn't be in this position if (the injury) didn't affect me to some degree."