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Jaguars-Browns Game Snapshot
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Natural grass
TV: CBS, Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker
PREDICTION: Jaguars 17-9
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns must load up to stop the run, but more bodies hasn't improved Cleveland's run-stuffing success as the defense allows 142.8 yards per game. To contain RB Maurice Jones-Drew, the Browns have to show better tackling and not have the initial defender to fall off tackles. The inability to score touchdowns -- two in the last 16 quarters -- forces the Browns to rely heavily on special teams. QB Colt McCoy would get a modest boost if RB Montario Hardesty (calf) can return, but the passing game still lacks consistent downfield threats.
FAST FACTS: The Browns are 1-of-7 scoring touchdowns in the red zone the past four games. ... Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert's longest completion in the past four games was 24 yards.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Speaking to the media Thursday for the first time since his season ended Sunday when he suffered a torn ACL in Indianapolis, cornerback Rashean Mathis said he'll undergo surgery on Nov. 28.
Mathis said he plans to play next year although it is uncertain if he will return to the Jaguars because he will be a free agent at the end of the year and the Jaguars had made no attempt to extend his contract.
"There's a lot more stuff on my mind than that," he said. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. The things I can control, I'll control. That's my rehab and getting back healthy. The things I can't control, trying to control will drive me insane."
He said he would prefer to return to the Jaguars.
"No question," he said. "There's never been a question. Being that I'm coming back healthy, I definitely would rather play here than anywhere else. I'm not a money-driven guy and prayerfully, I never will be, but I would rather be here."
Mathis said he will be a coach on the sideline for the rest of the year.
The timing of the injury was unfortunate because Mathis, who led the team with 12 passes defensed, said he was playing his best football in recent years because he was healthier than he has been.
"I was healthy," he said. "Being healthy is a good thing. This was the first year in the last two years my body was 100 percent, and I was able to perform like it. Now it's an ACL and the mental thing is the main thing. I'm good mentally going in that this is just another bump in the road. I'm only going to be stronger afterward."
He added, "Being my body has always taken injury well, I'm smiling right now, because my knee could actually be stronger than it was."
He said he's spoken to teammates Aaron Kampman, Luke McCown and Greg Jones who have previously returned from torn ACLs.
With Mathis sidelined, William Middleton will replace him in the starting lineup. Middleton previously started four games in place of the other cornerback, Derek Cox, when he was injured.
Barring a relapse, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi should be in the starting lineup Sunday when the Browns try to break a three-game losing streak. That is welcome news to quarterback Colt McCoy, who has not had many weapons to work with during the slump.
The Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars both carry 3-6 records into the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Browns have scored only two touchdowns in their last four games.
Massaquoi practiced Wednesday for the first time since playing briefly in the game in Houston on Nov. 6 and continued to improve Thursday with no setback. He was knocked out of the game against Seattle on Oct. 23 with a concussion. He caught one pass against the Seahawks, did not play against the 49ers the next week and did not play against the Rams.
"It always feels good to get back on the practice field," Massaquoi said. "I've been symptom free since last Friday. I feel good. We're just going to keep progressing and see how the week develops."
Massaquoi has 18 catches, two of them for touchdowns.
The news is also encouraging on running back Montario Hardesty but whether he might play on Sunday hasn't been determined. Hardesty has missed the last two games with a torn right calf muscle but has been running full speed with trainers the last two days.
"I want to play in the game, but there are still procedures and different things you have to go through with the trainers for me to get there," Hardesty said. "So I'm just going to take the procedure one step at the time.
"I was getting close to full speed (with the trainer), just working on going through it, taking the steps, doing my change of direction, just getting back used to doing football stuff."
Hardesty leads the Browns with 244 yards rushing.
--DT Terrance Knighton, who has an ankle injury and is not expected to play Sunday in Cleveland, missed practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.
--DE John Chick (abdomen) was limited Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.
--DE Aaron Kampman (hamstring) was limited Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.
--RB Brock Bolen (calf) was limited in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.
--WR Brian Robiskie (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.
--RB Peyton Hillis has been ruled out for the Jacksonville game. After rushing for 1,177 yards last year, he has played in only three games this season.
--Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said rookie DT Phil Taylor had his best game of the season vs. the Rams when he made five tackles and had a sack.
--DE Jayme Mitchell missed practice Thursday for personal reasons.
--RB Peyton Hillis continues to rehab from a hamstring injury. He is using electronic stimulus to help the healing. He will miss his fifth straight game Sunday.
--LT Joe Thomas has the assignment of keeping Jaguars sack leader Jeremy Mincey off Colt McCoy.
--WR Greg Little with 37 catches trails only A.J. Green of the Bengals among rookie receivers, but Little is still looking for his first touchdown. Green has 41 catches and four touchdowns.
--DT Ahtyba Rubin led all defensive linemen last year with 82 tackles. He has 44 this season, second to Calais Campbell (46) of Arizona.
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