For some reason, I don't think rain will be a problem this week against the Detroit Lions. Since the Cleveland Browns will play the Great Lakes Classic at Ford Field and it's the third preseason game, the coaches should be able to get their best evaluation of the starters this season.
Last year, these two teams met twice -- once in the preseason, and once during the regular season. Their regular season match-up was a memorable one, ending with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford having taken a huge shot from C.J. Mosley on a Hail Mary pass. After a pass interference call, Stafford stayed in the game to throw the game-winning touchdown. Mosley is still on the PUP, so Stafford shouldn't be too concerned about an encore.
Here are some notes and things to look for in today's game against the Lions...
- Teams usually try to throw the ball more often in the preseason than they do run the ball. While I don't mind seeing that trend continue against the Lions, I'd like to see Jerome Harrison featured in a drive at some point where he is marching the ball down the field behind our first-string offensive line, much like he did at the end of last year behind fullback Lawrence Vickers.
- Here's a possible match-up to watch: Shawn Lauvao vs. Ndamukong Suh. I didn't watch much of Suh during his college days, but I certainly heard the hype surrounding him. I'm interested in seeing how Suh looks as a rookie, and how Lauvao does against him.
- Speaking of Lauvao, we'll probably see our opening day offensive line for the first time this preseason since Tony Pashos is expected to return too. With the Lions having Suh, Corey Williams, Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch, it will be a good test for our pass protection. It'd be nice to see Pashos fill in just as well, if not better, than St. Clair did.
- Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi will be back this week. He had a solid first preseason game, but one of his issues last year was consistency. I want to see if he can be counted on as the team's No. 1 receiver for the second week in a row, because Brian Robiskie's production seemed to suffer without him on the field. Massaquoi playing probably means less reps for Joshua Cribbs, but I think we'll see some situations where Massaquoi and Cribbs are on the field without Robiskie or Chansi Stuckey.
- This is the week where you work Seneca Wallace into the first string offense a little bit while not "calling it a day" for Delhomme. I know the team wants to keep things under wraps, but if we think teams are going to "catch on" just by seeing a few plays in the preseason, then it's kind of silly to expect it to work over the course of a season. I actually see it being beneficial to the Browns so they can review the tape and see how a defense other than their own reacts to the lineups featured by the Browns.
- There won't be enough time for Colt McCoy and Brett Ratliff this week. Heck, I don't think there will be time for either of them. Most teams have been playing just two quarterbacks in the third preseason game; I think the Browns will do the same, and then play McCoy and Ratliff only next week.
- This might seem like a minor one, but I'm going to be paying very close attention to how quickly Coye Francies sniffs the field. If he is active, I would be ecstatic if Mangini tries to get a look at him in the first-team offense in the dime package.
- The Lions have a great weapon in Calvin Johnson, so it'll be interesting to see how the Browns match up against him. Former Brown Dennis Northcutt is still with Detroit, so we're bound to hear his name called a few times. It'd be nice to see our special teams coverage rebound this week and for our guys to get some nice licks on Northcutt.
- I won't be satisfied in a preseason game until we get some pressure on the first-string quarterback. We've been giving Aaron Rodgers and A.J. Feeley way too much time to throw. At some point, you hope that your team's physicality can overcome the opposing team's offensive line, if you're going to use the excuse that you're not showing off the blitzes.
- Obviously the Browns want to cut down on the turnovers this week after having five last week.
- The Lions' first-round running back, Jahvid Best, did well against Denver last week with 8 carries for 49 yards. The Browns have been holding opposing teams' running backs to minimal yardage, so I'd like to see that trend continue.
- At safety, for all of the hype we heard surrounding Larry Asante, it seems like Ray Ventrone has been getting snaps over him (perhaps I'm mistaken). I want to see Asante worked in to some first-string packages in hopes that he can show off the reason the Browns drafted him (his run defense and tackling).
- The rain can probably be blamed a little for this, but we didn't see much, if any, of Evan Moore in the first half last week. I want to see him split wide a few times and targeted. Getting the ball to him and Peyton Hillis is going to help open things up for our other receivers and tight ends. Of course, it helps that Jake Delhomme has been doing a good job going through his reads and getting the ball to the right receiver.
- If you're wondering where the FanPost went that the Lions fan posted, the answer is, "I don't know." My guess is that the original author went back and deleted the post, which sucks because I thought there were some humorous comments in there.
Feel free to share your own notes on what you're looking for in tonight's game. For your information, the official game thread will go live at 2:00 p.m EST, three hours before the game begins at 5:00 p.m. EST. Please take note of that early start time!