As expected, the Browns' fourth and final preseason game came and went without much excitement. The Bears defeated the Browns, 24-0, in an uneventful Thursday evening contest.
As ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon tweeted during the first half: "The guys the Bears are going to cut appear to be better than the guys the Browns are going to cut." This phrase perfectly sums up the game.
We did learn a few things from the final preseason game, though. Here's what you missed:
1. No more injuries: Browns fans can breathe a big sigh of relief. No important Browns players sustained injuries. A few important players, such as Dwayne Bowe, Malcolm Johnson, and punter Andy Lee saw playing time, but none suffered injuries. Following a long training camp filled with hamstring injuries and other afflictions, the Browns will receive 10 days to get healthy.
2. West the workhorse: Terrance West shouldered the load on the ground tonight, and ran well. Due to lackluster offensive line play, West didn't always have much room to run, but he excelled when he saw daylight.
Midway through the first quarter, West made a nice cut for a 5-yard gain, which was ultimately wiped out by a holding call. Later in the quarter, West gained 15 yards on a third down read option play, dashing through an open hole without hesitation.
West showed quick feet and elusiveness on his carries, running aggressively all game. He finished with nine carries for 35 yards.
3. Under Fire: The second string offensive line’s pass protection was lackluster, causing quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to make several silly mistakes. On three of the first six passing plays, Lewis found himself under attack. Two of those plays resulted in long sacks.
Lewis didn’t help the situation by refusing to throw the ball away. His hesitation cost the Browns late in the first half. Lewis failed to get rid of the ball with the Bears’ blitz coming, and linebacker John Timu hit Lewis and caused him to fumble, squandering a long drive.
The pressure got to Lewis again with five minutes left in the third, as Lewis tossed a pick-six, allowing Chicago to extend its lead to 21. To Lewis’ credit, the offensive line was often porous, surrendering seven sacks.
Despite a handful of good plays, Lewis didn't do himself any favors. He shouldn't make the 53-man roster.
4. Lenz lights it up, Bowe turns up: Josh Lenz made two solid catches on the Browns’ first drive of the game, while Dwayne Bowe finally made a catch. Lenz hauled in a 19-yard pass from Lewis for a first down across the 50 yard line. The next play, Lenz secured another pass from Lewis, this time on a slant route across the middle for eight yards. Early in the second quarter, Lenz got open again on a deep comeback route, resulting in a 14 yard pass-and-catch. He led Browns wide receivers with four receptions for 49 yards.
The Browns even played Lenz at safety in the third quarter, isolating him in single coverage on his first play. Lenz stepped up to the challenge, avoiding any embarrassing mistakes.
Bowe recorded a reception in the second quarter, but he didn’t show much engagement on passing plays not designed for him. On one such pass play to Lenz, Bowe ran a halfhearted route with little passion. Bowe also failed to create separation on the Browns’ second play from scrimmage in the second half, missing a deep ball from Lewis.
5. Rushing in to help: The Browns secondary swarmed to the ball in the first half. Jordan Poyer and Ibraheim Campbell each made tackles early in the game on runs up the middle, and others followed suit in an impressive first half. The lone exception occurred halfway through second quarter.
Jeremy Langford dashed past the Browns' second and third level defenders on a 34-yard run play midway through the second quarter, nearly finding the end zone before Campbell made a touchdown saving tackle. Besides this hiccup, the second string secondary avoided major mistakes.
The third stringers looked awful in the fourth quarter, but that doesn’t really matter.
6. Pryor plays at last: Terrelle Pryor saw a significant number of reps in the second half, mostly as a wide receiver. Pryor did not make any big plays at wideout, but he did play quarterback for two snaps in the third quarter. The Bears defense didn't bite on Pryor's read option runs, but it was a good thought by the coaching staff.
Did Pryor show enough to make the team? The former quarterback didn't make any big plays, but the Browns seem willing to take a risk on him.
7. Rookie Report: Hayes Pullard III’s evening began with a miscue, but the USC product played well afterwards. Early in the game, Pullard missed his assignment on a passing play, failing to pick up the running back coming out of the backfield. Pullard then tried to adjust, but slipped and fell. Following that mishap, Pullard didn’t miss much, flowing to the ball well and making several tackles.
Starting fullback Malcolm Johnson blocked well and hauled in a 6-yard spinning catch out of the backfield in the first half.
Darius Jennings showed speed on a lengthy kick return in the second quarter, but also fumbled following a reception in the second stanza. If Jennings’ fate was not predetermined, it is sealed now: Jennings will not make the team.
Cameron Erving did not play. The first round pick isn't likely to start, but he'll probably be the next man up if an injury occurs.
Vince Mayle made a catch in the second quarter, but did not make much noise otherwise. The former fourth round pick is a longshot to survive the final cut.