INDIANAPOLIS - Now that the Cleveland Browns have a taste for winning, they'd like nothing better than to take a bigger bite out of it.
With the 2-3 Indianapolis Colts hosting the 1-5 Browns today at Lucas Oil Stadium, there's no reason to think the Browns can't win for the second straight week. The Colts are coming off a 35-9 loss to the New York Jets and are trying to recapture the magic that led to a 30-27 upset of the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago. The Browns became the last team in the NFL to win a game this season with a 34-24 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The teams are like mirror images. Both start rookie quarterbacks - first overall draft choice Andrew Luck of the Colts and Brandon Weeden of the Browns. Both teams are battling the inconsistencies associated with a youth movement.
"It's a very young team, but I see all the guys out there," Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said of the Browns. "That's the big difference. Offensively we're getting healthy, so that part of it, our offense versus their offense, they're very similar.
"Young back (Trent Richardson); great back; two great backs. A bunch of young wide receivers; young quarterback but Pro Bowl left tackle; Pro Bowl center. They've been doing this for a little bit longer than we have."
Arians is filling in for coach Chuck Pagano, who took a medical leave of absence to receive treatment for a form of leukemia. The emotional win over the Packers came a few days after Pagano announced his leave.
The Colts ran into a strong dose of reality against the Jets. Luck, who had been playing well, was 22-of-44 for 280 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Up-and-down season, sort of like our guy?" Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Luck. "I think he's a rookie quarterback in this league that's extremely talented. He's going to win a lot of games in his time, and I see him doing a lot of really, really good stuff. A lot of the stuff that I'm sure they anticipated he would do when they drafted him."
Weeden is looking to build off a strong showing in the win over the Bengals. He completed 17-of-29 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
"It's just important that we keep going forward and don't take a step back," Weeden said. "We did so many good things for four quarters. We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot. We didn't do things to harm ourselves. We just have to build on that and use that positive momentum. This is a big week for us. We need to try to put two back-to-back and see where it takes us."
Weeden was pleased to look out at the practice field and see receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin back. Massaquoi missed three games with a pulled hamstring, and Benjamin was out two weeks with a hamstring injury.
"It's nice to have some familiar faces," Weeden said. "All of the guys are back, and that feels good. For them, I just wanted them to get back on the field because I know it's not fun being in that training room. They want to be out here playing."
The Colts could catch a break if Richardson isn't able to play because of an injury near his rib cage. Richardson wore a flak jacket in practices and said he plans to play.
"This is space-age designed stuff," Shurmur said. "He's wearing something that's bullet proof. He told me he thought he already was, now's he's got to wear something to make it happen."