X-FACTOR: Cleveland cornerback Buster Skrine

Most of Cleveland’s opponents don’t bother throwing too many passes at Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden.

That’s normally a recipe for failure.

So the Browns drafted cornerback Justin Gilbert with the eighth overall pick, but he couldn’t beat out Buster Skrine, a former fifth-round pick from Etowah High and Chattanooga. Skrine, who has made the opposition pay with four interceptions, will be the X-Factor when the Browns face the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday.

While Haden and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will wage war against one another, the heavy action will be around Skrine, who plays outside on base defense downs and slides down into the slot when the Browns play their nickel package.

The Browns play mostly man-to-man, Skrine will see a lot of Roddy White, Harry Douglas and some Devin Hester.

“Buster is one of my favorite guys,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We have our saying ‘Play like a Brown.’ We want guys that are tough, competitive, passionate and productive. He embodies all of that.”

Skrine has played in all 58 games since he was drafted in 2010 and will make his 32nd start. He’s part of Browns’ defense that is leading a revival in Cleveland.

Skrine broke his right thumb Aug. 15 and had surgery Aug. 18. However, he was ready to answer the bell when the season opened.

He has played 718 snaps for the Browns, and opposing quarterbacks have an 86.4 passer rating when venturing into his coverage area, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Buster has been a big part of the success that we’ve had in the secondary,” Pettine said.