BEREA - If quarterback Brandon Weeden is going to have success in the Browns' west-coast offense he'll need to make use of the tight ends.
In the 17-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday the combined contributions of Benjamin Watson, Jordan Cameron and Alex Smith was three receptions for 8 yards. Watson had two catches for 9 yards, while Smith had one catch for minus-1 yard. Weeden overthrew a wide-open Smith in the end zone and he didn't see Watson break open on a crossing route.
One of the most-improved players on the entire roster during training camp was second-year tight end Jordan Cameron, a converted basketball player. Cameron injured his back and missed some time late in camp, but he dressed and played against the Eagles.
"There's no conspiracy theory there," coach Pat Shurmur said of the absence of production by Cameron. "He's working through it. He was part of an offense that didn't perform very well last weekend. I like the progress he's making."
Watson didn't play in any of the preseason games and missed most of training camp with a leg injury. There are health concerns surrounding Watson, who finished last season on injured-reserve after suffering a third concussion.
WAR OF WORDS?: Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga was quoted in a story out of Cincinnati as saying he didn't see anything special in Browns running back Trent Richardson.
"I just laughed at it," Richardson said. "I'm going to let my game speak on Sunday. Stuff like that doesn't bother me, but it sparked something in me. I'll be ready to play, but that's all you get out of me."
GOING HOME: Rookie defensive tackle John Hughes should feel comfortable Sunday in Cincinnati. Hughes played at the University of Cincinnati, which played its home games at Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats used Paul Brown Stadium for three home games in 2011.
"I'm playing at a familiar field, which is good," Hughes said. "My friends at UC can come see me."
Hughes, who played at Gahanna Lincoln High School, plans to have more friends and family in attendance than he did for last week's game in Cleveland.
NEW ROLE: Linebacker Scott Fujita's expected return to the lineup will change the role played by rookie L.J. Fort, who started against the Eagles. Fort will likely have less time on defense, but he'll continue to play on all special teams units.
Fort had to pinch himself last week to make sure he wasn't dreaming. A year earlier he was playing at Northern Iowa.
"Before I was just trying to get ready after the coaches told me I was starting, but afterwards I realized that I had started," he said. "I never would have dreamed about it. I was just trying to make the 53, but I ended up starting. It was definitely a blessing."
THE RIVALRY: The Bengals have a 41-36 advantage in "The Battle of Ohio" rivalry with the Browns. The Bengals, who have won 12 of the last 15 games, won both games last season. The Browns haven't swept the series since 2002.
The Browns have played the Bengals more times (77) than any opponent other than the Pittsburgh Steelers (120).
INJURY REPORT: The only changes for the Browns are the additions of receiver Joshua Cribbs (knee) and receiver Josh Gordon (knee). Both were full participants in Thursday's practice. Offensive linemen Oniel Cousins (ankle), John Greco (calf) and Joe Thomas (knee) were limited. Tight end Benjamin Watson (thigh) was also limited.