Will there be another high priced player released in the next 48 hours?
In an otherwise meaningless fourth preseason game lost by the Browns, 24-0 to the Bears, the Browns held out four healthy wide receivers in Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin. Marlon Moore was held out with a rib injury. Moore is a core special teams player and the way Mike Pettine talked about him last week seemed to indicate that Moore figures into the team’s plans as Pettine said they plan to use Moore in the passing game this season, as well.
NFL teams usually keep in the five to seven wide receiver range. Pettine said he wouldn’t rule out the Browns keeping as many as eight receivers on the final roster. With the five aforementioned players making it, that doesn’t leave much room leaving Dwayne Bowe, Terrelle Pryor, Vince Mayle, Josh Lenz and Darius Jennings battling for one, two or even three spots.
Bowe was signed with the expectation of being the team’s number one receiver, or at least the second. However, a hamstring injury has put him in a similar situation that Nate Burleson was in last year.
Bowe played into the third quarter, which isn’t common for a nine-year NFL veteran for the fourth preseason game. Television analyst Solomon Wilcots said on the Browns radio network pregame show that he was told by Browns coaches that Bowe needed to show something in the preseason finale or he might not make the team. However, on the television broadcast at halftime, Nathan Zegura said that Bowe was not in danger of being released, but was playing in the last preseason game because he had missed so much of the preseason with a hamstring injury.
Bowe has a $9 million contract guaranteed after signing as a free agent. He caught his first pass of the preseason for eight yards in the second quarter. Thad Lewis tried to throw a deep ball to Bowe early in the third quarter, but it was well overthrown.
Meanwhile, Pryor made his much anticipated debut after a lingering hamstring injury had sidelined him since the first day of pads. He was in at wide receiver for the first time with 9:05 left in the third quarter. The Browns ran the ball on the first play and then he was taken out.
However, after the coaching staff continually insisting in the preseason that Pryor was only with the Browns as a wide receiver, he lined up at quarterback in the shotgun on the second play of his second series and ran the read option to the right side for five yards. Later on the drive, Pryor ran the read option again for four yards.
Pryor was in on the punt team in the third quarter for his first play of the preseason. Pryor had no passes thrown his way but finished with two runs for nine yards.
Mayle was a fourth-round draft choice. He caught one pass for five yards and was called on an illegal block in the back negating a 48-yard kickoff return by Jennings. Mayle made a tackle on a punt in the third quarter.
Lenz might have had the best showing as he had four catches for 49 yards to lead the team. Lenz showed his versatility by playing as a defensive back in the second half.
Jennings caught three passes for eight yards, but had a fumble after a catch in second quarter. He did return three kickoffs for 16 yards, with a long of 21 yards.
For Real: The Browns finish the preseason 1-3 and now will prepare for the season opener at the New York Jets on Sunday Sept. 13.
RB Competition: With RB Isaiah Crowell sitting out, RB Terrance West got the start. It appears that Crowell is the team’s starting running back as the season starts. West had nine carries for 35 yards and one reception for 16 yards. RB Shaun Draughn had his most extensive action since returning from a broken bone in his hand. He had eight carries for 11 yards, including a long of eight yards. He had one reception for minus six yards.
Thaddy Lew: QB Thad Lewis started and played the first three quarters. Lewis scrambled for a first down in the first quarter. He was strip-sacked on the best drive of the first half and Bears recovered and missed a 43-yard field goal before the half. In the first half, Lewis was 12-of-13 for 97 yards and had two rushes for five yards. Lewis appeared to hang on to the ball too long as he was sacked four times. He finished 14-of-20 for 100 yards with a fumble and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Devlin Era: QB Pat Devlin played in the fourth quarter and was 2-of-2 for 20 yards. He hit WR Josh Lenz for eight yards and WR Vince Mayle for 12 yards.
Campbell: Rookie DB Ibraheim Campbell ed the Browns defense at the half with four tackles. He had a tackle for a loss, but missed a tackle near the goal line in the fourth quarter. Campbell led the Browns with seven tackles, followed by LB Tank Carder, who had five. DB Landon Feichter had five tackles, as well.
X Factor: Rookie DL Xavier Cooper had pressure on QB David Fales in the first quarter. Cooper led the NFL in sacks in the preseason with three. Cooper finished with two tackles.
Tight at End: TE Rob Housler had one catch for 19 yards, while rookie TE E.J. Bibbs caught one pass for four yards.
On the Bubble: The Browns have to make 22 roster moves by Saturday to get down to the limit of 53. DB Joe Rankin missed a tackle that resulted in a 16-yard gain. WR Darius Jennings fumbled the ball after a catch. He had three receptions for eight yards. DB De’Ante Saunders was beaten down the sideline on the Bears first touchdown to WR Mariani. Jennings had a nearly 50-yard kickoff return that was called back due to penalty on WR Vince Mayle.
In the preseason finale between the Browns and the Bears, Mike Pettine was taking no chances as he held 31 players out of the 75 players remaining on the roster out of the last game, including 10 injured players.
The Browns held out 31 players from the preseason finale, including 10 due to injury: QB Johnny Manziel (elbow), WR Marlon Moore (ribs), DB Justin Gilbert (hip flexor), DB Pierre Desir (concussion), DB Robert Nelson Jr. (hamstring), RB Duke Johnson Jr. (concussion), DB K’Waun Williams (abdominal), DB Charles Gaines (hamstring), LB Nate Orchard (back) and LB Barkevious Mingo (knee).
The remaining 21 players that sat out were primarily starters:WR Travis Benjamin, QB Josh McCown, WRAndrew Hawkins, WR Taylor Gabriel, DB Tramon Williams, DB Joe Haden, DB Donte Whitner, RB Isaiah Crowell, DB Tashaun Gipson, OL Alex Mack, DL Danny Shelton, OL Mitchell Schwartz, OL Joe Thomas, OL Joel Bitonio, OL John Greco, TE Jim Dray, TE Gary Barnidge, WR Brian Hartline, DL Desmond Bryant, DL Randy Starks and LB Paul Kruger.