Major injury? Well, there were potentially a few noticeable ones. Signs of progress? Yeah, a couple. Rookies playing like rookies? Definitely. Phil Dawson
being Mr. Automatic? Of course.
What is there to surmise after the Cleveland Browns opened the preseason Friday night against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field?
Not a whole lot. There. How’s that for stellar analysis?
It wasn’t pretty even though the Browns won 19-17 on a 45-yard field goal by Jeff Wolfert with 28 seconds remaining in the game.
Yet here’s the rub with these preseason games: Teams that look pretty in preseason do no necessarily translate that into wins in the regular season. The
most famous account occurred here in Detroit. The Lions were 4-0 in the 2008 preseason before finishing 0-16 in the games that actually count.
The Browns expect no less than six rookies to see significant action on both sides of the ball. In essence, this game was a different — and much-needed —
style of practice for players like Travis Benjamin, Josh Gordon, John Hughes, Mitchell Schwartz, Brandon Weeden and Billy Winn.
“Regardless of whether they count or not, it’s fun to win,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “They should take something away from that.”
It wasn’t always watching a thing of beautify. Weeden had a fumble and an interception. Schwartz false started. The offense failed to convert a third down.
“Some of that other stuff we have to get cleaned up,” Shurmur said.
Thankfully it is only preseason game one. The team still has two more preseason games in which these plays will see even more significant time. Not to
mention, numerous training practices still lie ahead.
This team is young. Youth reared its ugly head tonight, but there were also positive signs.
“Get better,” Benjamin said. “We got practice two days from now. We got to watch film, critique it and get better every day.”
What should you take away from this game? Here’s your mantra: Meh. Let’s not go overboard either way. In a instant-analysis world, it’s time to take a deep
breath and realize there are still 30 days and three more preseason games to go before it starts to count.
“As I was watching the game, I was thinking to myself ‘this will be a great game to watch,’” Shurmur said. “There were a lot of situations and a lot of
guys who got an opportunity to play and we’ll be able to evaluate what they can do for us. That’s what you want.”
Dings, Dents and D’ohs
: The Browns suffered four key injuries in the first half. On the Browns’ offense first play from scrimmage, Weeden connected with Mohamed Massaquoi for a
12-yard gain. Massaquoi would not return with concussion.
The injury bug wasn’t done. It also bit defensive lineman Scott Paxon (right knee), defensive back Dimitri Patterson (right ankle) and tight end Jordan Cameron (back).
“I don’t the severity of those injuries,” Shurmur said. “They could all be back quickly, we just have to see tomorrow.”
: The rookie quarterback was under a big magnifying glass Friday night. His first action in an NFL game yielded some good, some bad. He finished 3-for-9
for 62 yards passing. His best highlight was a 34-yard connection with Benjamin sending the Browns down to the Detroit 23-yard line. Three plays later
Detroit’s Willie Young had a strip sack and the Lions recovered on their own 30-yard line.
“I felt in complete control,” Weeden said. “That was my main focus. The numbers aren’t perfect, I didn’t expect them to be. I knew I’d make mistakes her or
there, how can you fix them and what you can do better moving forward.”
: In the competition to see who will serve as Weeden’s backup, Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace each showed flashes. McCoy finished 6-for-8 for 88 yards
passing including a 42-yard connection with Jordan Cameron.
“I felt like we were first and 20 two or three times,” he said. “Hard to move the ball when you get in those situations.”
Wallace was 7-for-13 for 86 yards including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brad Smelly with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter.
“All the quarterbacks did well,” Shurmur said. “Whey they had their opportunity they ended up moving us. All the quarterbacks moved the ball.”
More of the Same
: The Browns run defense continued to showcase its hallmark: The inability to stop the run. Detroit finished with 198 yards rushing on 33 carries for a 6.0
yard per carry average.
“This game felt a little like last year,” Shurmur said. “We saw some runs and at the end of the day not a whole lot of points. We just need to do better in
all areas of our game.”