Joe Haden of Cleveland Browns could be out vs. Dallas Cowboys

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns couldn't win without Joe Haden. They might have to try again.



A four-part series on player health and safety with reporter Andrea Kremer aired Tuesday through Friday on NFL Network:

Tuesday: Football's safety issues
Wednesday: Virginia Tech's helmet technology, The "Hit System"
Thursday: Inside Darrelle Revis' rehab
Friday: The lack of common safety standards in youth football

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Haden missed practice Thursday with an oblique injury, and the Browns could be missing their top cornerback -- and arguably their best defensive player -- on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Haden, who was suspended four games by the NFL earlier this season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, got hurt during a drill in Wednesday's practice. He stayed on the field and was listed as "limited" on the Browns' injury report, but he did not participate at all Thursday, and his status for this week's game remains uncertain.

It's another setback for Cleveland's defense, which has been ravaged by injuries all season. Starting tackle Ahtyba Rubin is expected to return this week after missing three games with a calf injury, but if Haden can't play, the Browns again will be forced to adjust.

"When anyone's down, especially a starter, it hurts," Browns safety T.J. Ward said. "It just seems like everyone's starting to get back and Joe, I won't say he went down, but he hasn't been practicing. Hopefully we can have him this weekend."

Haden likely would be responsible for covering Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who has 45 catches for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

While Haden served his suspension for testing positive for the stimulant Adderall, the Browns went 0-4. They're 2-2 since he returned, and Haden's presence has not only bolstered Cleveland's secondary, but he has forced opposing teams to game plan differently.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press