The Browns are believed to be about 4,000 seats short of a sellout in 73,200-seat Cleveland Browns Stadium for Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.
Cleveland’s WKYC (Channel 3) has a contract to telecast all four Browns preseason games and, following the airing of last Saturday night’s 17-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the opener, is set to do the Lions contest as well with Jim Donovan, moving over from his radio play-by-play duties, and color analyst Bernie Kosar.
But what will happen if Saturday’s game fails to sell out? Will the Browns still decide to air it? It’s anyone’s guess.
All 100 Browns home games in the 10 years of the expansion era – 80 in the regular season and 20 in the preseason -- have sold out beforehand and have been televised locally.
The Browns haven’t blacked out a home contest due to it failing to sell out since the original franchise’s last season in Cleveland in 1995. A crowd of 55,388, about 17,000 short of capacity when the no-shows are tabulated, showed up on Nov. 19 – two weeks after the announcement of the franchise’s impending move to Baltimore following the year -- to see a young, emerging quarterback named Brett Favre and the Packers turn back the Browns 31-20.
The Browns then sold out their final two home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers the following Sunday and against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 17. With no-shows figured in, crowds of 67,269 and 55,875, respectively, watched those two contests.
HUH?: It was odd to see Derek Anderson, involved in a tight quarterback competition with Brady Quinn, lobbing a pass to Quinn, playing wide receiver, as the Browns walked through some plays on another field during Monday’s training camp practice.
CAMPER OF THE DAY: It’s going to be a real stretch for linebacker Phillip Hunt, a rookie from Houston, to make the team. But at a muscular 6-foot and 244 pounds, he sure packs a wallop. That was evident – again – during a kickoff drill when he took fullback Charles Ali, no small fella himself at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, and knocked him through a tackling dummy on a kickoff drill.
CAMPER OF THE DAY FIRST RUNNERUP: Another rookie linebacker, Marcus Benard from Jackson State, has had a good camp, and that continued when he picked off a Quinn pass intended for rookie wide receiver Jordan Norwood on a quick-out route and raced 45 yards for a touchdown.
CAMPER OF THE DAY SECOND RUNNERUP: When defensive back Bret Lockett was playing well at a big-time school, UCLA, he expected to be drafted. But it didn’t happen, and he ended up signing with the Browns as a free agent. He’s turning heads, though, as Browns head coach Eric Mangini praised him as a young player who earned a longer look by the way he performed against the Packers. In fact, Mangini said Lockett has played well throughout camp. “It feels good to hear that from your coach, but that’s not enough. You’ve got to keep working,” Lockett said. “I’ve been relentless in my effort day after day. I’ve been taking care of details, and it’s good to see it’s been paying off in practices.” He added, “It was a blow not to be drafted, but more than a blow, this is a major incentive for me. You can either give up or push through it. I’m trying to push through it. Everybody wants to be drafted, but even if you aren’t and you have to go the free-agent route, you’ve still got a chance at the end of the day to play in the league.”
DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT …: Rookie cornerback Brandon Anderson from the University of Akron worked with the No. 1 defense once more. Keep an eye on him. The coaches seem impressed with him in the short time he’s been with the team.
A SURE SIGN: You know the offense is really struggling to find itself when an Anderson pass bounces off the almost always sure hands of wide receiver Mike Furrey and into the opportunistic hands of linebacker Eric Barton.
JUST VISITING: Kent State’s Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion and fresh off his 24th-place finish in the PGA Championship over the weekend, took in practice, as did Dan “Mad Rad” Radokovich, the former Browns offensive line coach from the Bud Carson era 20 years ago.
TARGETED FOR CHANGE: There’s a new category on official statistical sheets from NFL games. It lists the number of times a player is the target of a passing attempt, thus showing how teams are intending to distribute the ball. Tight end Aaron Walker was tops for the Browns against Green Bay with five passes thrown his way. He caught three of them for 48 yards
UP NEXT: The Browns will practice twice on Tuesday, from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. and then again from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. With many local schools opening next week, it’s one of the last good opportunities for students to see the team in camp.
QUOTABLE: “We had had a decent camp to that point. There’s been a whole different mentality here since day one. But going through it was rough. The way we do things around here, that kind of performance was unacceptable. To go out and lay an egg like we did was shocking. I don’t know what happened. We came out flat. We gave up way too many yards running the football (239). We’ve worked too hard to do that. But it’s behind us now and we’ve got to move on from it.” – Browns inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson on the defense’s poor play against the Packers.