As usual the WFNY staff offers up their take on what we’d like to see during the fake portion of the schedule. Tonight the Browns are in Chicago for their final (thank God) preseason game. Without further delay, here’s what we are looking for from the Browns tonight-
DP- HEALTH. It’s clear that Mangini has no designs on picking (or at least publicly naming) a starting QB until the last possible moment, so I’m watching this game with one eye closed hoping for no major injuries to any key players. I think back to Jamir Miller’s Achilles, Ross Verba’s biceps tendon, and hope against hope that this team whose depth is razor thin at certain spots isn’t tested by a pointless injury in a game that means nothing and in which the coaches will probably show/do nothing of significance.
TD- The Running Game. Could this be the swan song for Jamal Lewis? Eric Mangini is from the Bill Belichick school of doing what he wants in regards to player personnel. If James Davis has another big game, does Mangini have the guts to go with a rookie sixth round pick and an undersized scat back (coming off a preseason injury) as the top RB’s? On top of the actual backs, the offensive line must open some holes for said RB’s. The top unit – which has rotated several guys in different positions, must start to show some cohesiveness in the running game as soon as possible. That starts tonight.
Craig- A Coach’s Challenge. Not really, but I was thinking about it. Has Mangini challenged a play yet? I read somewhere that he was hiring a former official to be his challenge consultant or something like that. If this was the Superbowl and we were doing pointless betting lines, I would bet Mangini will not challenge a play tonight. You will need subplots like this to keep the final pre-season game interesting for yourself. So, I am expecting to see the Browns go challenge-less tonight. Seriously. That is what I am talking about.
Scott- The final roster spots. While most people will focus on the first drive, or whatever the starters produce, I’ll be watching the Coye Francies’ of the world. Will he be able to pass Corey Ivy and Hank Poteat on the depth chart? Will this be the last time we see Noah Herron or Chris Jennings in a Browns jersey? Will Beau Bell and/or Leon Williams be with the Browns come Saturday evening? Will Rick Bartel be able to provide a good enough of an audition for another team in the NFL? Is David Bowens really on the Browns, or was this just a mythical signing? Will Jordan Norwood go from undrafted to NFL roster? These are the questions that I will look to have answered this evening. Whether or not we get those answers will be another thing…
Rick- I get the advantage of compiling the list and seeing what everyone else said. I would agree with Dan that the most important thing we can see tonight is a healthy team at the end of the game. I would like to see the Browns run to the left quite a bit while the starters are in the game. That should be our bread and butter this season. I’d like to see what Eric Steinbach does against one of the better linebacking corps in the league. Defensively I’d like the Browns to focus on wrapping up ball carriers. We did a decent job in the first two games, but struggled against the Titans bringing guys down outside the tackle box. If nothing else, we should be treated to excellent special teams play as guys look to make the squad with those skills.