The Browns will play a football game next Thursday at 8:00 pm EST. Well, a preseason game. But none the less an actual game. The question now is, which players will play in the four preseason games?
In years past, head coach Kevin Stefanski has been careful to play starters very little or not at all. I can understand his reasoning, however, injuries are going to happen no matter what. Last year the Browns lost their starting center on the first play of the first preseason game. This year starting wide receiver Amari Cooper “tweaked” something early in camp and finally got back on the field Friday. Mathew Adams, a key contributor for special teams, has a calf injury and won’t return for another couple of weeks.
On Thursday, both Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey went down with non-contact injuries. Burrow’s injury seems to be a calf strain (out for four weeks) and Ramsey is out for the season. My point is, injuries are going to happen, there’s no avoiding it. The Browns have ramped up slowly all week, to prevent non-contact injuries, but that’ll end on Saturday when the team starts 11 on 11 full pad practices.
During one of his weekly press conferences, Stefanski mentioned some starters would play in preseason game two (Washington at home) and game four (Kansas City on the road). I would hope during these games, quarterback Deshaun Watson would at least play a quarter or maybe two-quarters of the Washington game. He needs the repetitions in these games because of the new offense. I don’t expect to see running back Nick Chubb playing, so the Browns will evaluate Jerome Ford and Demetric Felton. Hopefully, they’ll realize they need to sign a veteran to back up Chubb and Ford. As for the defense, the defensive line also needs repetition in the new defense.
I expect both Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith to start both games, as should the secondary. Linebackers Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki are too important to play in these games, Save them for the season opener.
As for the Hall of Fame game, I expect quarterback Kevin Mond to start and be backed up by Dorian Thompson-Robinson. I can’t wait to see both of them play. Bottom line, injuries are going to happen, that’s football. But because of the new offense and defense, key players need to play before game one versus the Bengals. This team needs a strong start to the season because of the schedule.