Browns preparing for Lewis' return

Despite lingering doubt whether inside linebacker Ray Lewis’ injured toe will allow him to play in the Ravens’ clash with AFC North rival Cleveland Browns, Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said he anticipates Lewis returning to the field for Sunday’s contest.

“I’m thinking he’s going to play,” Shurmur said during his conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. “There’s been 10 days since the last game where he almost played. So that’s my thoughts. I’ve had a chance now for a few weeks to see how this goes – limited, doubtful, questionable. You know, all that stuff, I think it’s crazy to try to predict all that. And I know he’s a competitor and he wants to get out there and help the team. And so, my guess is he’ll play.”

Lewis has missed two consecutive practices and a third absence Friday could close the window on the 12-time Pro Bowler’s possible return. However, the Browns are game-planning as if Lewis will play so that the offense is prepared for that possibility.

“Now, in terms of how you adjust your game plan, typically we’ll try to do the same things with the idea that he’ll be in there and understand how he plays,” Shurmur said. “When you’ve got an inside linebacker that’s a playmaker, you’ve got to find a way to get a hat on him. You just can’t let him run free.”

Despite Lewis’ absence, the Ravens have won two games with Jameel McClain moving to Lewis’ traditional position as the Mike (middle) linebacker and Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan starting one contest each as the Will (weak-side) linebacker. That depth is something the Browns should be aware of, running back Peyton Hillis said.

“You know, Ray Lewis is a great player, no doubt, but we all know that the rest of the team is good, too,” Hillis said. “So we have to account for everybody, and especially the front seven is really aggressive and really physical and very athletic. So there’s a lot of other people that you need to account for.”

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