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'Don't control the weather': Browns could see run-heavy game against Saints amid winter storm

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 18:38:55-05

BEREA, Ohio — A winter storm is rolling into Northeast Ohio ahead of Saturday's Browns game against the New Orleans Saints and with it comes the potential of wind gusts up to 60 mph and wind chills as low as -25 on Saturday.

The team knows the elements are out of their control.

"I don't control the weather ... so whatever we got to play in, strap up, put your extra sleeves on, wear your leggings, whatever you got do, but you can't be worried about that. You've got an opponent ahead and you've got to go 1-0," said defensive end Myles Garrett.

What the Browns can control, however, is coming up with a game plan for the harsh conditions expected inside FirstEnergy Stadium. Those plans have been discussed throughout the week and a final plan will come once the conditions are confirmed.

"We have to get down there Saturday and see what the conditions are, see exactly what the temperature is and see exactly what the wind conditions are and then make appropriate decisions based on that," said head coach Kevin Stefanski.

For the offense, that might mean a heavy dose of Nick Chubb and a prominent run game.

During every home game, Browns fans can be heard chanting "Chubb, Chubb, Chubb!" and for the brave souls heading out on Christmas Eve to watch the game in what is set to be a frozen tundra, they may just get their wish.

"If it's one of those days that you can’t even take a shotgun snap because the wind is blowing too hard, we'll adjust and adapt," said offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. "I think we have a good plan going in and contingency plans if it is one of those days where you just can’t really do anything but get under center and run the ball. We're ready for that."

Chubb, a man of few words, didn't get into much detail about what he's expecting on Saturday. But to no one's surprise, should they go heavy on the run game, he'll be ready.

“It is what it is. Can’t do anything about it. We are preparing for whatever, so we will be ready," Chubb said.

The running back missed the first two practices of the week with a foot injury but on Friday returned to the fields in Berea and was cleared to play Saturday. Should he see the offense fall on his (and Kareem Hunt's) shoulders, the task might be made easier with the return of another key player.

Center Ethan Pocic, who has missed the last four games with a knee injury that saw him placed on injured reserve, was designated for return from the list and Stefanski announced that the offensive lineman will be activated for the game.

Pocic's return could be a huge boost to the run game, which has struggled at times in his absence as Hjalte Froholdt, a true guard, filled in at center.

"Whatever the game is. If we’ve got to run the ball every play, if we’ve got to pass the ball every play, I just kind of try to just take things one day at a time, one play at a time and just have fun," Pocic said. "I’m excited just to go play ball and just to be back and be back in the swing of things."

And no matter what the conditions end up being on Saturday afternoon, the team will have to adjust to them because, as Stefanski said, it will be the same for both the Browns and the Saints.

"Sometimes you play and it's real hot. Sometimes you play and it's windy and it's real cold or whatever it is," Stefanski said. "The truth of the matter is the conditions will be the exact same for both teams so it will be about who executes and who does their job.”

Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.

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