We’re turning that final corner. Rounding third and heading home. Just trying to escape this post with no major injuries (with the speed at which Scott types, a hand injury is always a concern). Seriously, though, this game is all about one thing: STAYING HEALTHY.
It’s going to be tough to really go deep on things we want to see, as we can’t really expect a ton of playing time for the starters in this game, and I suspect most people will be more interested in what the gentlemen wearing scarlet shirts and gray helmets will be doing. But, that doesn’t mean this game will be devoid of things to watch for. So what are we, your intrepid WFNY commentators, watching for tonight? Let’s find out.
What We’re Watching For:
Scott: For the portion of the game that I’ll watch (when the Buckeyes game is on commercial), I’ll be looking for three things: 1) Montario Hardesty, in pads, absorbing contact, 2) Colt McCoy looking like an NFL-capable quarterback and 3) Improvement from the rookie defenders. I guess we can could’ve just grouped this all into one category given the “rookie” theme, eh? Hardesty was drafted to be a big part of the Browns running game. If he’s going to be such come week 1, he’s going to need to show that there is no rust from taking the majority of training camp to recover from a “contusion.” And not that the rookies disappointed, but more reps are not a bad thing. Sure, it may not be against Knox, Hester and Aromashodu, but I’d like to see even more improvements in the defensive backfield. And finally, let’s see if McCoy can build off of a relatively successful game against the Lions. He won’t be facing a prevent defense this time around, so here’s hoping he throws the ball down field and to a member of his team…in bounds.
Rick: Offensively I want to see Lauvao and Pashos continue to work well together and open a few holes so we get to see what Hardesty can do finally. Obviously whatever we see needs to be tempered with the personnel that the Bears decide to trot out. I’d like to see Carlton Mitchell targeted a few times and see if his hands have improved through camp. Defensively I want to see someone step up and beat one on one blocking. I want to see Roth or Benard cut loose and wreak a little havoc in the backfield. It would be nice to see Haden or Ward get their first pick as well.
DP: I’ll be curious to see if any front-runners emerge for certain roster spot battles: James Davis vs. Chris Jennings (advantage Davis?); the last LB and WR spots; any insights on the right side of the offensive line, in which there might be more information given according to who doesn’t play than who does. Even Colt McCoy vs. Bret Ratfliff. Since Holmgren and Heckert are presumably making out the final-53, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which McCoy doesn’t make the team. It will nonetheless be interesting to see how the two QBs play in full-on garbage time. Most of all, as visions of Jamir Miller’s Achilles injury and Ross Verba’s biceps tendon rolling up like a window shade dance through my head, I’m holding my breath that no one deemed “integral” to the Browns’ “success” this season limps or gets carted off the field tonight.
Craig: Fourth quarter fireworks from practice teamers. The fourth pre-season game is a joke, but I really want to see a James Davis or Chris Jennings go crazy with running yards. I want to see Colt McCoy find Carlton Mitchell on a go-route bomb. As the backups and practice squads take over the game, the offense could be fast and loose. Obviously I don’t want to see any injuries for any starters, but I am also hoping for anything entertaining in the final quarters. Give me plays over 10 yards and lots and lots of Y.A.C. please.
TD: I’ll be watching to make sure nobody important gets hurt.
Brendan: Hail Mary passes that are kept within the boundaries of play. Forward passes that are thrown to teammates who did not begin the play in the backfield. Quinn-esque huddle presence. The fourth exhibition (don’t use the word ‘preseason’, they’re exhibition games even if the NFL hates that term and tries to dress it up otherwise) game is not a very indicative showcase of things to come – you know, when the muni lot starts to bustle and the games start to matter. It’s largely a showcase for the coaches who are making final determinations out on the margins of the roster. Therefore, I think the most important aspect to watch for in this game is the continued development of the rookies. Obviously people will be looking at Colt McCoy as he should get an extended look and he obviously needs to do better against the other teams 3rd and 4th stringers. TJ Ward looks to be settling in wonderfully both against the run and in special teams, but I had hoped that his fellow rookie safety, Larry Asante, would be right on his heels and provide a long-term solidification of the safety position. It’s not that Asante has been terrible, it’s just that he has been fairly quiet so I am hoping for some big hits and solid production, at least against the run. I am also really hoping James Davis puts on a show and is able to lock up a roster spot – he’s someone to root for, in my opinion. After that, let’s just get ready for the Bucs and enjoy the kickoff of the college season.
What about you, folks?