This is the last exhibition, both for the Browns and for us here at WFNY. Next week we hit up the game previews for REALZ. We’re talking guest bloggers, people! At any rate, this game doesn’t have the import or the luster of last Thursday’s game, as whichever starters play in this game for both teams probably will not be on the field for long.
The Bears were one game away from the Super Bowl last season, and look to be in a battle for another playoff spot again this season in a tough, tough NFC North. Jay Cutler is back from his knee injury that derailed the team’s chances in the NFC Championship, though I doubt we’ll see much of him tonight. Caleb Hainey!!! I know you’re all ready to strap in for this one. Much like the teams, we here at WFNY are just trying to get through this one with no injuries. Now that my leg is healing, the last thing I need is a bout of carpal tunnel right before the regular season starts! At any rate, let’s go…
What We’re Watching For:
Scott: As I stated on a radio appearance earlier this week, the two players I’m watching will be Usama Young and (once again) Montario Hardesty. Two players, both expected to fill key roles for this football team, and both having played very little this preseason. Naturally, Hardesty’s injury was considerably worse than that of Young so I will be intrigued to see if the second-year back can continue to make progress from a confidence standpoint. With specific regard to the free safety, I want to see how he performs outside of the first two weeks of training camp. How does he react in a live setting? Will he have the skill set we would come to expect from a starting free safety? Everything I saw in camp pre-injury looked positive; here’s hoping he didn’t lose a step while nursing the hamstring.
DP: It’s easy to say, but I’m watching with a hand over my eyes to make sure no one gets hurt. The placing of Eric Steinbach onto IR after back surgery this week is an all-too-stark reminder of how fragile the team’s depth can be based on one injury. Who can forget Jamir Miller? Ross Verba? Pre-season game season-ending injuries suck wookie, so I’m watching with my sphincter clenched hoping that no one of great import gets hurt. Beyond that, I’d like to see Colt McCoy bounce back a bit, another successful game for Montario Hardesty, and I’d like to see someone catch a punt without muffing it at their own 15 yard line, even though I know that once rubber meets road JC will be back there holding it down. On defense, I’d like to see another PHIL TAYLOR!! appearance, if even for only a series or two. It would also be nice to see some defensive scheming to stop swing passes to running backs out of the backfield that seem to always gain 9 to 12 yards. And, since Jay Cutler isn’t exactly known for his speed, I’m hoping we won’t see two QB rushing TDs this week. Did I mention I don’t want anyone to get hurt?
Andrew: It’s always tricky when you get to this 4th and final preseason game. There’s a lot to watch for, but not all that much of it will actually matter in the regular season. But there are two very important things I will be watching for in this game. First, I want to see more of Jason Pinkston. It’s asking a lot of a 5th round draft pick to step in as a rookie and play a meaningful role on the team. But with Steinbach’s injury, it just might be Pinkston who sees his role expand, so I will be watching him closely to see how he is holding up. Second, I want to see more of Montario Hardesty. The Browns’ lack of RB depth is well documented at this point, so I just want to see what kind of shape Hardesty is really in and whether not he looks like he’s ready to take on the role of taking some of the load off Hillis’s shoulders.
TD - Its this simple for me. Just make sure nobody important gets hurt. The Browns depth essentially in all spots is pretty thin, so making sure they come out completely healthy is a must.
Also, like last week, I want to see more Montario Hardesty. This guy is going to be needed this year to make sure Peyton Hillis doesn’t wear down. I’d like to see what he can do getting into a groove tonight. My guess is they won’t allow that to happen in fear of injury, but I’d like to see Hardesty go hard tonight.
Rick- No injuries would be 1,2,and 3 on this list. After that, I want to see if any of these backs can take the place of Brandon Jackson who is out for up to 6 weeks now. (And for the record I do not want to see Hardesty tonight. I don’t think a few carries is worth the risk in a game like this. Save it for Cincinnati.) Perhaps there is also something to see as far as D-Line depth. Otherwise, I’m just not very interested in a fourth preseason game.
What about you, folks?