Unlike the rest of the offense, the Browns linemen got it at least half right in the season-opening loss to Philadelphia. Their pass protection against the athletic nine-wide defense was fine.

The problem was that they could not consistently open up holes for rookie RB Trent Richardson. And considering he was making his NFL debut while coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, he needed all the help he could get. The result was that he rushed for a mere 39 yards on 19 carries.

Perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas understands that the run blocking must improve Sunday in Cincinnati. But he offers no special solution.

"There is no magic formula," he said. "It's just a matter of using the right technique, getting a hat on a hat and making sure we're on the same page in terms of technique and calls."

The Bengals provide a much different look and scheme than the Eagles.

"The Eagles didn't blitz much," Thomas said. "They used an eight-man front and man coverage and brought a safety in the box to help against the run. The Bengals use more zone coverage and blitz you to take you out of the run game. They are different defenses, but one is no better than the other."

The Eagles were certainly superior defensively in Week 1. The Bengals yielded 430 total yards and 34 of the 41 points scored by Baltimore on Monday night.

Cincinnati MLB Rey Maulauga spiced up the banter heading into this game by calling out Richardson, whom he claimed to be "nothing spectacular." Have those words added incentive for Thomas and his linemates?

"I don't think that way," he said. "I'm sure Trent has a little extra fire in his belly. It's kind of funny -- if you answer yes, it looks like you weren't going as hard other times. I like to think we play all out on every single play."

Close losses psychological or physical? It seems meaningless at times when the Browns take a lead in the second half of a taut game. They generally find a way to lose. The Browns have dropped five straight games decided by four points or less, including the 17-16 decision to the Eagles in Week 1.

And every game they have a chance to win is close. They haven't won a blowout since stunning New England, 34-14, in Week 9 of 2010.

Veteran wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs doesn't buy the notion that the players feel a negative sense of inevitability. He argued that the players on this painfully young team have no preconceived notions.

"We have a lot of rookies still finding their way," he said. "Our quarterback is a rookie. So there's no connection there. They haven't adopted that [negativity]. The whole game was rough. It's not like the fourth quarter kicked in and [the team collapsed]."

The Browns were playing well defensively until a 91-yard Eagles drive turned a 16-10 lead into a 17-16 defeat with 1:18 remaining in the game.

Fujita ready to roll: Strongside linebacker Scott Fujita is set to play Sunday, but his role has yet to be specified. It's likely he'll start, but it remains to be seen how many reps he receives in passing situations. The fear is that none of the starting linebackers (including Kaluka Maiava and D'Qwell Jackson) boast the size, speed or athleticism to cover Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham.

Impressive young LBs L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson are far more likely to assume that role. The Browns would prefer to have a linebacker shadow Gresham and free up safeties T.J Ward and Eric Hagg to provide double-teaming against Cincinnati stud wideout A.J. Green.

Inside, outside: Coach Pat Shurmur greatly prefers to run practices outdoors, but Mother Nature had a different idea on Friday. A steady rain forced the Browns indoors. They will play outdoors Sunday on FieldTurf at Paul Brown Stadium.

Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.