The Cleveland Browns regular season and preseason schedules have been out for quite some time now. If you are a fan that resides in close proximity of Berea, Ohio - site of Cleveland’s training camp - then you are able to go see a practice or two live and in color. If you are a season ticket holder, you are able to attend two games out of the four on the preseason schedule.
Many fans enjoy watching training camp, and even the preseason games.
Networks will show a few exhibition games, including the Hall of Fame game on August 1 in Canton between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. But most exhibition games go untelevised. Not that they aren’t recorded, these games just are not available for public viewing except within a certain mile radius of the two clubs and often regionally. This year, FOX, CBS, NBC and ESPN are all broadcasting only a few NFL preseason games. But, that’s it.
However, the NFL Network has announced its television schedule for the preseason. This is the only network that is showing every single preseason game. Yes, every one. Whereas FOX is showing two live games, NFL Network is covering 13 live contests. And every other game can be seen in it’s entirely on a tape delay broadcast.
Here are the dates that the Browns will be featured* as part of the NFL Network’s preseason TV schedule:
- August 9 (Friday) 4 pm EST - Washington Redskins at Browns (Replay)
- August 17 (Saturday) 4 pm EST – Browns at Indianapolis Colts (Live)
- August 23 (Friday) 11 pm EST – Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Replay)
- August 31 (Saturday) 7:30 am EST – Detroit Lions at Browns (Replay)
There are several reasons why the NFL holds these exhibition games. One is to make money. The second is to break in players who are new to the club, or perhaps every player if the team has new coaches.
The offensive playbook Odell Beckham, Jr. will be using with the Browns is nothing like what he was used to utilizing with the New York Giants. Years ago, the Giants hired Dan Reeves as their new coach. Traditionally in American football, all of the gaps are numbered with the offensive gaps on the right side having even numbers, while the left side are odd. In Reeves’ system, however, all his gaps were reversed. Every player on the Giants had to re-learn the game before the first game.
Thirdly, players need to be evaluated in game situations instead of just practice sessions. There will be some fierce position battles in this year’s training camp such as at right guard. Just because a player is inserted into the first team-unit in Berea does not mean he can handle his position proficiently in an actual game on the road at Heinz Field, for example. Yes, sometimes he is not going against the other team’s starter in a preseason match, but game experiences with reactions is critical in the coaches’ evaluation of every player on the roster.
Lastly, training camp consists of 90 players. The regular season roster is whittled down to a 53-man group plus a 10-man practice squad. Who do you waive, and why? Who should you keep? Which veterans are surprise cuts? How many times have you seen a player cut from one club only to not only make the active roster of one of the other 31 teams, but become a valuable athlete that contributes? Nobody associated with the Cleveland Browns wants to be reminded of their mistakes in the evaluation of talent. Nobody.
Money paid to players in the preseason is different than during the regular season. Players do not make their “contract money” in the preseason. That is set out by the collective bargaining agreement.
During the preseason, first-year players receive weekly payments of $1,150, while veterans get weekly installments of $2,000. All room and board is also provided by the Browns while a player remains remain on the roster. One week prior to the first regular season game, players who remain on the roster begin a cycle of receiving their contract money divided into 17 installments and paid out every two weeks. This does not include signing bonuses or contract incentive bonuses, nor playoff money.
Many fans enjoy watching whether the backup tight end can unseat the starter, or which running back will become the number two and three guy, the kicker competition, or how that rookie cornerback is doing with a possibility of becoming the starter.
Exhibition games are critical to the bottom third of the 90-man roster.
To view the complete list of available games, visit nfl.com. There is a disclaimer, however, that fans should take note of:
*Live games on NFL Network will be blacked out in the participating teams’ over-the-air station markets. Re-airs of a non-sellout preseason game prior to the home team’s local over-the-air station re-airing the game will be blacked out on NFL Network in the home team market.