The Cleveland Browns will play their second preseason game of the year tonight against the Green Bay Packers. QB Brandon Weeden and the first-team offense are expected to get a full half of playing time, and head coach Pat Shurmur indicated that there's a chance they could see action into the third quarter. If that is the case, then you can bank on the first-team offense not playing as much in the team's third preseason game against the Eagles, since they also play them in Week 1 of the regular season. Some brief notes to preview tonight's game are after the jump.
- I am wondering if the wide receiver position will be restructured at all in this week's game. Josh Gordon has had his fair share of struggles the past week or so in training camp, and he wasn't very sharp in last week's preseason game. Chances are, he will receive an early shot at redemption. If Shurmur stuck with Greg Little all of last year, why go back on Gordon? Plus, with Travis Benjamin possibly set to miss the game (soreness), it could be a blow to Gordon's confidence if he is pulled this quickly.
- If Benjamin doesn't play, who becomes that fourth guy? I think it has to be Joshua Cribbs, who has seen increased reps in Berea this week while Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi dealt with injuries. Speaking of Cribbs, I assume he will be back to returning kicks and punts to start this week's game. Benjamin handled those duties last week, and maybe it's one of the reasons he came away sore.
- I am looking for a touchdown drive out of Brandon Weeden. Way too many people were harsh on Weeden when looking at his first-game performance versus other rookie quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. First off, Weeden was never in the same class as those two quarterbacks. Second, you always want to see some progress in your offense, no matter who your starting quarterback is. I still refuse to judge Weeden for the entire season based on a preseason game, but in the larger sample size of plays we are bound to see from him this week, hopefully he shows he can correct some of last week's issues.
- It's not just Weeden who needs to make strides. We saw some issues in pass protection on the right side of the offensive line with Shawn Lauvao and Mitchell Schwartz last week. If they allow another team to generate quick pressure on them, it's not going to look promising to begin the year over on that side. Weeden is not going to be a very mobile quarterback, so we can't afford to have him dodging defenders -- he needs to have just enough time and then sling the ball down the field.
- We heard Pat Shurmur comment last week about not adjusting run plays when the Lions stacked the box. If this is the "dress rehearsal" game due to the Eagles situation, then I'd like to see Weeden be given the opportunity to make more adjustments at the line of scrimmage, much like Bernie Kosar was begging for last week. With the right calls, we can have a better look at the difference between the Montario Hardesty from a year ago and the one on the field in 2012.
- On the defensive line, I want to see how quickly DT Ronnie Cameron is thrown into the mix. My expectations are that he will be in with the second-team defense. It doesn't make sense to put him with the first-stringers when you're still trying to see what you have in rookies John Hughes and Billy Winn.
- Speaking of rookies, L.J. Fort is expected to make the start at middle linebacker. Benjamin Jacobs started their last week in place of D'Qwell Jackson. It has been a rapid ascent up the depth chart for Fort, the leading tackler in all of college football a year ago. I would also like to see James-Michael Johnson look a little more confident in himself, and for the defense in general to stop all of the cutback runs they had against them last week. You can bet that the coaching staff made a point to coach the defenders up on that, right?
- We heard that Trevin Wade has been seeing action at nickelback this week due to the injury to Dimitri Patterson. That is not a knock on Buster Skrine, though, because the coaching staff stated that they preferred that Skrine get as many reps as he could at the regular cornerback position. That means they want him prepared to line up on the outside in case Joe Haden gets suspended or something happens to Sheldon Brown.
- We need a makeup game from Ray Ventrone. The guy failed to down a Reggie Hodges punt last week at the two, which would have been a coach's dream for getting the defense on the field during the preseason to practice that scenario. Later, he contributed to allowing a big run and took out teammate Dimitri Patterson on the same play. David Sims showed some promise in last week's game, so I'm looking to see if he builds off of that against the Packers.
- If Marcus Benard plays, I want to see how often the defense uses him on the first-team defense compared to veteran Juqua Parker during pass-rushing downs. Emmanuel Stephens is still expected to start in place of the injured Frostee Rucker.
- Can the replacement officials get any better this week? As much as everyone criticized them during the first week of preseason action, each crew has had a chance to reflect on their "poor" outings. It's not easy to call a game perfect, but maybe I'll give them the benefit of the doubt temporarily just in case they are able to prove us wrong.
- Last, but not least, does Colt McCoy play the entire second half of the game? We have heard the rumors for awhile now: the Packers are in need of a backup quarterback, and McCoy has some experience in the West Coast Offense. McCoy had a good outing against the Lions last week. Some fans have asked why he is getting so much playing time in camp this year, especially compared to the number of reps longtime veteran Seneca Wallace has received. The answer could be that they are building his value. If the Packers want to see him up-close-and-personal, this is their chance. If McCoy fits the Packers' needs a backup, they can make an offer for him. If not, they look elsewhere. Personally, I don't think anyone will pan out here: ultimately, Cleveland will have to make the decision to keep or cut the third-year quarterback.
What are you looking for in tonight's game?