Game: Kansas City Chiefs(0-0) vs. Cleveland Browns(0-0)
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium (Cleveland, OH)
When: 7:30 PM EST (Browns Pre-game for Cleveland viewers is at 7:00 PM)
In the Browns' first preseason game of the year, all eyes will be on quarterbacks Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson in the first half. Unfortunately, we won't be able to get a fair guage of what the team will look like on opening day after the various injuries that have occurred over the past several days. There are plenty of little things to look for at each position though, as the Browns decide who will be cut and who will be where on the depth chart.
What We're Looking For:
- Quarterbacks: Head coach Romeo Crennel decided that a coin flip would be the best method to fairly deciding who would start off the game against the Chiefs. The reasoning behind that is the fact that both quarterbacks are about even, but it just seems like Crennel is protecting his own ass in case one quarterback really outshines the other one in this game. With a new offensive system installed, it'll be interesting to see if either quarterback has changed their decision making for the better. With Frye, we'll be looking to see good reads to compensate for his lack of arm strength. With Anderson, we'll be looking to see how often his strong passes actually hit his receivers in stride. Ken Dorsey will see most of the action in the second half, with Brady Quinn possibly taking two snaps at the end of the game.
- Running Backs: The praise from the media regarding the shape of Jamal Lewis has been encouraging, but now we get to see him against an opposing defense. Is this the Lewis of old, or the injury-plagued one from the past two seasons? Jerome Harrison should get some plays in third-down passing situations, but Jason Wright should be the running back for Frye or Anderson once the second units hit the field. I would expect Chris Barclay to get his fair share of carries in the second half instead of Harrison. At the fullback position, it would seem that Lawrence Vickers has his job locked up, but I'll be looking to see how well of a blocker Charles Ali is. If Ali leads well for Lewis or Wright, it may be worth starting him over Vickers.
- Wide Receivers: This game really doesn't matter for Braylon Edwards or Joe Jurevicius, because their starting roles are as safe as can be. Jurevicius shouldn't have any qualms about catching the ball, so the focus will more so be on Edwards. Will Edwards have a better burst from the line of scrimmage this year, or will he still be held back from prior injuries? I wouldn't be surprised if Tim Carter got a rest due to his various injuries the past few weeks, meaning it's time for either Joshua Cribbs or Travis Wilson to duel it out and hang on to every single football that comes their way. I hope the Browns do not waste a significant trick play; anything more than a reverse will upset me. As far as all of the other receivers go, it'd be nice to think that we could find another receiver that will make the team, but the chances of that based on history are very, very slim.
- Tight Ends: The best player on offense is Kellen Winslow, and if the quarterbacks want to impress the coaching staff, they'll make sure they go his way early and often. If Carter is out, we'll see if Chud puts Winslow in the slot for a few plays and brings in Steve Heiden as the tight end. We know what to expect from our top two guys, but the final tight end spot is open. Darnell Dinkins made the roster last year, but Ryan Krause has more experience in a Chargers type of offense.
- Offensive Line: Without Eric Steinbach in the lineup, it'll be impossible to judge the line as a whole, or how strong our running game can be on the left side. The most important player to look at will be Joe Thomas, and how often he gets beat by an NFL defensive end. The Chiefs have a pair of solid ends that should give him some tests early. Seth McKinney has drawn praise for his work filling in at guard, and without any veteran backups behind him at the moment, his success will be key. In terms of backups, I'll be looking to see if Fred Matua or Rob Smith step their games up, which would give the team more comfort room to keep one of them while placing Isaac Sowells on the PUP instead.
- Defensive Line: We know what Ted Washington has left in him, meaning Shaun Smith is the player to watch as he fills in for the injured Orpheus Roye. If Roye comes back and is ready for Week 1, Smith will be back at tackle. I want to see how well Chase Pittman looks against the Chiefs. With a strong effort, I might consider keeping him over Ethan Kelley or even Simon Fraser. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be seeing any stars on the defensive line. The last thing we need now is an injury to Robaire Smith or something.
- Linebackers: With Willie McGinest out for six weeks, we'll have the opportunity to see Antwaan Peek step in and start. Peek and Chaun Thompson will get a great deal of time against a Chiefs offense that should not be particularly strong in the first preseason game. If any of our linebackers get blown up or we can not stop the run, it will be a big disappointment. It's doubtful that the starting linebackers would lose their job, but with two extra linebacker spots open from McGinest's and Matt Stewart's injury, the team will be focused on guys like David McMillan, Mason Unck, Jason Short, and Kris Griffin.
- Defensive Backs: I expect Eric Wright to have a few problems until he gets some more experiences, as that would be natural for a rookie. However, if he gets burned badly by a quarterback that's basically a rookie in Brodie Croyle, I'll probably be a little less optimistic about him than I was before. Brandon McDonald has looked good in camp, but he'll need to maintain that pace in the second half to make the final roster. There's not much to comment on at the safety position, considering Gary Baxter isn't ready to go yet.
- Special Teams: This is our least controversial position. No one is taking jobs away from Phil Dawson, Dave Zastudil, or Ryan Pontbriand. Cribbs will be the kick returner, but he doesn't have a lock on the punt return role yet. Hopefully our defense will give him some early opportunities. I'm looking forward to seeing Syndric Steptoe receive several opportunities in the second half.
This is the official gameday topic for the first preseason game of the year, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs against the Cleveland Browns. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Last, but not least, GO BROWNS!!!