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LeSean McCoy vs. Browns Run Defense and Four Other Key Match-ups on Sunday

LeSean McCoy vs. Browns Run Defense and Four Other Key Match-ups on Sunday

LeSean McCoy vs. Browns run defense

One of the few areas we didn't cover in our chat with WFNY's Scott Sargent earlier in the week was the Browns run defense, which ranked 30th in the NFL last season. Don't expect it to be a whole lot better right off the bat in 2012, either.

Cleveland lost defensive tackle Phil Taylor to a torn triceps over the offseason, and the promising second-year player will miss at least the first part of the season. The injury weakens a front four that even with Taylor's presence allowed 4.4 yards per carry in '11. Further compounding the issue, the injury to Chris Gocong and suspension of Scott Fujita has left the Browns with a collection of nondescript linebackers surrounding D'Qwell Jackson in the middle. Rookies will see significant action on both the defensive line and at outside linebacker.

Meanwhile, Michael Vick did not get much playing time during the preseason, what with his injuries and all. Obviously Andy Reid will try to get him into the flow of the game, but if the quarterback shows any rust, it makes sense to lean heavily on the running game to secure this outcome. Look for a big day from LeSean McCoy, and plenty of touches for either Dion Lewis or Bryce Brown -- or both -- late in the game once the Eagles have their opponent on ice.

Jason Babin vs. Mitchell Schwartz

An area we did address with our Cleveland counterpart was the match-up of the Eagles defensive line against the Browns offensive line, and specifically Babin against Schwartz. A second-round pick out of Cal, the rookie Schwartz is starting his first game at right tackle, and right out of the gate he draws 18 sacks in 2011 as his assignment.

Schwartz could very well be a capable player, maybe even good enough to stonewall Pro Bowlers, but this is his first day, and Babin has made a fool of even the most proven commodities. The Browns will undoubtedly help Schwartz with TE Ben Watson, and the good news for them is they have perennial Pro Bowler Joe Thomas working against Trent Cole on the other side, but Babin has to be frothing at the mouth while staring across at his competition. It could be a long day for Brandon Weeden in the backfield once #93 gets going.

Eagles linebackers vs. Trent Richardson

The Browns coaching staff will be looking for some way to take the pressure off of their rookie quarterback, and they have a shiny new toy in Richardson, who is seemingly healthy after a preseason clean-up procedure on his knee. In the Eagles wide-9 scheme, it's seemingly a question of when, not if, Richardson will get into the defense's second level, which is where they struggled so much last season.

This is where we'll finally get a glimpse of what exactly the team acquired when they traded for DeMeco Ryans in the middle. Ryans didn't make a bunch of plays in the backfield or anything like that this summer, but he did show a knack for getting off of blocks -- something Eagles linebackers have really failed at in the past -- and he was always in the right position, so instead of runs breaking into the secondary for seven yards, eight yards, or more, most were ending after three or four.

And tackling is a huge part as well. Richardson is an absolute beast of a man who squats 700 lbs. like it's no big deal. Getting this guy to the ground is not easy. Again this is an area where Ryans traditionally excelled, though putting hands on such an insane athlete is no simple matter either. Mychal Kendricks demonstrated he can swarm the ball carrier, but his ability to wrap up will be put to the test against Richardson, as will Akeem Jordan's, who took over for Brian Rolle late in camp.

Eagles wide receivers vs. Sheldon Brown

Joe Haden has escaped suspension (for now), so Cleveland's second-ranked secondary remains intact for Week 1. Haden is on the verge of superstardom in this league if he can convert on a few more big plays, so don't expect DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin to just go easily flying by the guy.

Sheldon Brown is another story. As we mentioned in our look back on the trade that sent the former Bird to Brown town, Sheldon has remained a mostly reliable corner for that defense, but his age is definitely beginning to show. Brown was never the guy who ran the fastest 40 time, but now that he's lost a step or two, he can be a liability in deep coverage, especially against the type of weapons Vick has.

Make no mistake, the Browns aren't likely to let Jackson or Maclin go running by their decrepit cornerback. There will be plenty of safety help over the top, as there always is whenever Djacc is on the field. Whether or not the Eagles can expose this apparent mismatch will be one of the keys to the game however -- not necessarily for big plays, but can the receivers create separation on the short and intermediate routes where Sheldon is stuck in one-on-one situations.

Brent Celek and Clay Harbor vs. Browns linebackers

Once again those outside linebackers are coming into play, only this time if they are asked to cover the Eagles' tight ends. If Vick has trouble finding targets on the outside, he may have his security blankets down the seam instead.

After a slow start in 2011, Celek turned it on down the stretch. As long as he's not required to help constantly in pass protection -- a major concern again this season with King Dunlap at left tackle -- he can be a serious weapon in the passing game. Harbor could find himself taking on a more prevalent role in the offense as well, particularly against a defense that could be prone to a two tight end attack that forces mismatches on outside linebackers. Again, the Browns were stingy against the pass last year, and we all know Andy Reid wants to throw the ball, so heavy involvement of Celek and Harbor might be a potential solution.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

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Phillies-Dodgers observations: Phils lose 5-4, fail to sweep MLB-best Dodgers

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Phillies-Dodgers observations: Phils lose 5-4, fail to sweep MLB-best Dodgers

BOX SCORE

The Los Angeles Dodgers scored twice in the seventh inning to take the lead for good, en route to a 5-4 victory over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon.

Los Angeles, which salvaged the last game of the four-game series and snapped a four-game losing streak, sliced its magic number to clinch its fifth straight NL West championship to one.

The Phillies finished a 10-game homestand with a 7-3 mark, and lost for just the fourth time in 12 games.

With the Dodgers down 4-3, veteran outfielder Andre Ethier led off the eighth with a pinch-hit homer off Phils reliever Ricardo Pinto (1-2). Chris Taylor followed with a triple, and one out later Cody Bellinger drove him in with a grounder to Rhys Hoskins at first base.

Warren Buehler (1-0), the fourth of seven Dodgers pitchers, earned the victory with an inning of scoreless relief. Kenley Jansen worked 1 1/3 innings to earn his 39th save.

Here are some observations:

• Hoskins gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead when he smoked a 2-0 offering from Los Angeles reliever Josh Fields, a 98 mph fastball, up the gap in left-center for a two-run double in the fifth. 

• Nick Williams hit a first-pitch changeup from Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda for an opposite-field two-run homer in the third, erasing a 2-0 deficit. It was Williams’ 11th homer in 74 games with the Phillies this season.

• J.P. Crawford, a natural shortstop, made no fewer than four outstanding plays at third base, the first two on groundballs off the bat of Logan Forsythe, and the last two on bouncers by Austin Barnes. In the second, Crawford dove to his left to snag Forsythe’s smash and threw to second for the force, and in the fourth he short-hopped a slowly hit bouncer and fired to first. In the fifth, Crawford ranged to his left to flag down Barnes’ grounder, and with Taylor at third and the infield up in the seventh again, Crawford snagged a ball off Barnes’ bat. The runner, Chris Taylor, wound up scoring anyway, on Bellinger’s infield out.

 • Mark Leiter Jr. was left with a no-decision after going six innings and allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits, while striking out three and walking one. The first two batters he faced in the top of the first reached, but only one of them scored, on Yasiel Puig’s sacrifice fly. Leiter surrendered an unearned run in the third, and Curtis Granderson’s solo homer in the sixth.

• Victor Arano had quite the adventure in his inning on the mound. He entered in the eighth inning, after Hoby Milner walked pinch-hitter Kiki Hernandez, and proceeded to strike out the next two hitters. Then he walked two, to loaded the bases, before retiring Taylor on a groundout to end the inning. Arano threw 21 pitches, 10 for strikes. 

• Maeda departed after three innings, having allowed two runs on three hits.

• The Phillies saw their 100-inning errorless string end five pitches into the game, when left fielder Aaron Altherr misplayed a single by Taylor, the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter.  

• Los Angeles 3B Justin Turner was hit on the right hand by a Leiter pitch in the first inning. He later left the game, and while X-rays were negative, he was diagnosed with a bruised thumb.

• The Phillies’ final road trip of the season consists of three games, beginning Friday in Atlanta. RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94) opposes LHP Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32).