Looking Ahead to Browns @ Bears – Preseason Game #4
Well, the last preseason game is finally upon us. A rather boring contest, but it is key for many guys fighting for their jobs. The analysis will be much more difficult as most of the key starters will either be on the sidelines or in for a few series. Nonetheless, let’s delve into this matchup.
Quarterback – It’s going to be the Thaddeus Lewis show on Thursday night. The third-year pro is not expected to make this roster but with McCown resting and Johnny Manziel sitting out, the team has to turn to their third string signal caller. If he does not make this final roster – hopefully he can play well enough to get a call from another NFL club. I liked his play last week, so that’s a good start.
Running Backs – All I want from this unit in this matchup is to avoid injuries. I would anticipate that West, Crowell, and possibly Johnson see a little bit of time on the field – but Timothy Flanders and Jalen Parmalee will likely see some touches against the Bears. Shaun Draughn would normally get an opportunity – but his hand injury will prevent him from carrying the football.
Wide Receivers – Will Terrelle Pryor make the Cleveland Browns regular season roster? This game might be the answer to this question, as it will be the only exhibition contest for the veteran. I want to see him on this squad, but if he cannot prove himself – I understand him not making the cut. I want to see what rookie Vincent Mayle can do; he has had drop issues, but his size and speed give him an opportunity to secure his spot with the club.
Tight Ends – Seeing E.J. Bibbs in extended time is the primary thing I look forward to from the team’s offense in this matchup. The undrafted rookie has been shakin’ and bakin’ defenders after securing grabs this preseason. I expect to see him make the final squad, but he first must prove that he belongs.
Offensive Line – Outside of Cameron Erving, who appears to be reliable reserve offensive linemen? One would have thought that Michael Bowie was one of those guys, but he has been extremely disappointing thus far. Hopefully a guy or two can step up and show that they can come in relief this regular season (in a short stint, unlike last year).
Defensive Line – Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, and Xavier Coops are just a few guys who will be evaluated heavily in this contest. The Browns are deep at this position group, and some difficult decisions will have to be made in the coming days. I want to see these athletes not only set the edge, but get a great push on the edge – forcing Jimmy Clausen to make a quick decision behind center.
Linebackers – Who has the leg up in the battle between Tank Carder and Hayes Pullard? Thursday’s matchup might be a telling affair, as both are inside linebackers and special teamers. Hopefully one guy can make it easy for Ray Farmer and his final cuts. I want to see dominance from Nate Orchard when facing backup offensive linemen. The rookie is expected to excel, as he face better competition from guys in practice (on a daily basis).
Secondary – Here’s where it gets really interesting; as there are many jobs up for grabs. Guys like Justin Gilbert and Robert Nelson have either been hurt or ineffective this year. Will they make an impact in this contest, or play their way off the roster? I want to see K’Waun Williams get some playing time, as he is expected to see the field once the regular season gets underway (and has missed the past few contests). Ibraheim Campbell will be the primary strong safety – hopefully he can continue to grow in his rookie season.
Special Teams: Pretty much the only thing that is left for this group is the final decision for the kicking duties. Honestly, I have no horse in this race – but as long as either Carey Spear or Travis Coons are accurate and consistent then I will be content.