The Cleveland Browns take on the Buffalo Bills on Friday for their second game of the preseason. Here is a preview of what you should look for in the game from the Browns.
Injury Report - Who’s In, Who’s Out?
On offense, the following players are not expected to play:
FB Danny Vitale (calf)
TE Seth DeValve (quad)
TE Julian Allen (abdomen)
OL Kevin Zeitler (calf)
OL Kevin Bowen (illness)
On defense, the following players are not expected to play:
DL Trevon Coley (ankle)
DL Caleb Brantley (ankle)
DL Daniel Ekuale (calf)
DL Marcell Frazier (concussion)
DB Montreal Meander (concussion)
Five Things to Look For
1. Improvement to the Run Game: We love seeing quarterback and receivers combine for big plays, right? Last week, despite the success passing, Todd Haley also stayed committed to the running game, as the team combined for 33 carries. The problem? It only led to 1.5 yards per carry. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson combined for just 2 carries a week ago, and I expect a few more for the duo this week.
Whatever emphasis the Browns put on run blocking during the week should be on display, and we have another week of Joel Bitonio and Austin Corbett getting to work together on their same side. The real problem in the running game was the second unit, since that is where the bulk of the carries came from for Nick Chubb and Dontrell Hilliard, but the team will take success on the ground with any unit, it doesn’t matter.
2. Heated or Tame? This week’s game features several storylines that Hard Knocks will be sure to follow. Coming off a perfect first preseason outing, Tyrod Taylor now faces the task of going up against his former team. Jarvis Landry has been a rival of the Bills for years, including delivering a career-ending block to a player a couple of seasons ago and getting ejected last year. Last, but not least, Corey Coleman quickly returns to Cleveland to face the team that just traded him, and he will also continue being the subject of a Hard Knocks storyline. While the coaches may have not cared for Coleman, I don’t know if his teammates felt strongly one way or the other.
3. Deeper Dive With Briean Boddy-Calhoun: I am still really curious what the Browns will do with Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Personally, I still believe he is a great asset to the defense, and I hope that Gregg Williams and John Dorsey feel that way too, considering he was one of the few holdovers from a year ago. But I’ve also seen many camps in which “experimenting with his versatility as a cornerback and safety” really just translates to, “we don’t really have a plan for you and you’re likely to be cut.” Since the defensive starters could see close to a half of action this week, I want to see how many snaps BBC receivers with that group.
4. More Progress at Wide Receiver: Despite the solid camps that Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins have had, there are rumblings that the Browns are trying to get a deal done with WR Dez Bryant. The mystery of WR Josh Gordon still lingers large, with respect to when he will return. If those guys are on the roster, will the Browns really play one of the younger guys over them? You could make a case for Callaway or Higgins over Bryant, but in order for them to do that, there can’t be many “off” days. A couple of dropped passes in a preseason game against Buffalo could loom large.
5. Kicking Competition: There has not been much talk this camp about the kicking competition between Zane Gonzalez and Ross Martin, and neither kicker had a field goal attempt during the first preseason game as the Browns decided to go for it a couple of times on 4th-and-short. The word from camp is that both kickers have been OK, but that Martin has shown a little more consistency. I’m expecting the Browns to try to have each kicker get a couple of attempts in this week.
Our game thread on Dawgs By Nature will go live at 6:30 PM ET on Friday, which is an hour before kickoff. Be sure to check in for the second preseason game of the year!