Sunday's X Factors: Panthers-Browns

FB Tony Fiammetta (Chuck Burton/AP)

The Carolina Panthers seek their first road win of the season as they travel to Cleveland to take on former franchise mainstay Jake Delhomme and the Cleveland Browns. Here is a look at four players who must step up for John Fox's squad.

FB Tony Fiammetta

There aren't many less glamorous positions in football than fullback. They hardly ever touch the football and only get noticed if they miss a block. Essentially, a fullback is a smaller, faster offensive lineman.

For Fiammetta to have a successful week, the name you won't be hearing (other than his) is Ahtyba Rubin. Rubin, the Browns' third-year nose tackle, has been dominating this season. His 51 tackles are second on the team and he has been making plays all over the field.

Blocking Rubin will be the primary assignment of center Ryan Kalil, but Fiammetta will certainly have to chip in. No matter who lines up under center for the Panthers on Sunday, Fiammetta will have his hands full keeping Rubin and any other Browns defenders from causing the Panthers' quarterback carousel to keep spinning.

Safeties Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin

Godfrey and Martin are the last line of defense this week against Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis, who is averaging 4.5 yards a carry and is tied for fourth in the league with eight rushing touchdowns, figures to be the workhorse for the Browns' offense again on Sunday.

Hillis is rarely brought down by the first man, so it will fall on the two safeties to make sure he does not run roughshod over the Panthers defense. Add to that the pressure of trying to tackle the elusive Josh Cribbs in the open field and Godfrey and Martin figure to have their tackling fundamentals tested regularly.

DE Tyler Brayton

In a season in which the Panthers haven't been smiled on by the football gods, they may have been dealt a stroke of luck this week. Jake Delhomme will get the start in place of the injured Colt McCoy, and if the Panthers have any chance at winning a second game this season, it may be the result of Delhomme playing the way that got him sent out of Charlotte after last season.

Brayton watched Delhomme throw plenty of interceptions from the sidelines the last few seasons and hopes to pressure him into throwing a few more on Sunday. Unfortunately for Brayton, stud LT Joe Thomas stands in his way, but Brayton knows that it won't take much to force Delhomme into a bad decision.

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