Browns-Bills Scrimmage Preview

The mysterious Owl has descended from the skies to offer his thoughts on today's scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills. Here are some comments from the Browns and some thoughts on the value of today's event. Tix are still available, so head down to CBS if you're in Cleveland.

The Browns are tired of bumping into each other, and now they get to crash helmets with the Buffalo Bills.

"It's good to see another piece of meat for a change," tight end Aaron Shea said.

Of course it is. The Browns have been practicing together and against each other for months. There are no surprises. The defensive backs know every move the wide receivers use and the wide receivers know everything about the DBs.

The offensive line knows the defensive line. The quarterbacks know whom they can beat. You get the idea.

Put it another way; neither the Browns nor the Bills will have to hold back when they meet in a scrimmage at Cleveland Browns Stadium Saturday morning.

Gates open at 9 a.m. The teams begin competing at 10 a.m. The actual scrimmage starts at 11 a.m. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the stadium Saturday morning.

"As much as I love my teammates, you get tired of seeing the same faces and playing against the same guys," cornerback Daylon McCutcheon said. "It's exciting to go out there and hit another guy in another jersey. Plus you can hit them harder.

"You don't want to injure your own teammates. You don't want to injure the Bills, either, but there is a little bragging rights thing."

This will be the first of three tests against an opponent for Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb, the combatants for the starting quarterback job. The pressure escalates Aug. 9 in a preseason game against the Titans in Nashville and escalates Aug. 15 in a home game against the Packers. Coach Butch Davis plans to name the starter no later than the week before the Browns play the Lions Aug. 23 in Detroit.

"Both guys want to continue to compete and show what they're doing," Davis said. "They want to perform well as quarterback of the Browns regardless of their personal competition. This is a good test. It's a chance to raise the bar.

"But I think it's a biggest test for the linebackers. This is old hat for the quarterbacks."

Davis is eager to see Kevin Bentley, Andra Davis and Ben Taylor against the Bills. Taylor was kicked in the back of the calf practicing in Rochester last year.

Bills' running back Travis Henry was fifth in the AFC rushing last year with 1,438 yards. He was shocked the Bills drafted Miami Hurricanes running back Willis McGahee with their first pick last spring and is determined to prove he is still a superb runner.

Since run defense is the biggest question mark of the Browns defense this season, the scrimmage will be a good measuring stick as to how much they must improve. Neither first unit will be on the field for the entire scrimmage, but it will still be a good test for outside linebackers Kevin Bentley and Ben Taylor. The battle for the starting middle linebacker job between Barry Gardner and Andra Davis could take focus.

Leigh Bodden, an undrafted rookie working at right cornerback, looked good early in training camp. Unfortunately, he tore a calf muscle in practice last Tuesday and won't play today. He hopes to return to practice Monday.

There are not as many questions offensively, but there are some players to scrutinize. One is right guard Qasim Mitchell. Mitchell played well against the Bills last summer when the two teams scrimmaged in Rochester, N.Y. A couple weeks later, he sustained a punctured lung in practice and was placed on injured reserve.

"They have some good defensive linemen," Davis said Thursday. "I hope he draws some of those guys. It's kind of like going to the rodeo and seeing which cowboy draws which bull.

"I hope some of our guys get the nastiest, ugliest, meanest bull in the rodeo tomorrow. The only way you'll ever get good is going against good people. We're going to win some and they're going to win some. We're going to make some mistakes. All getting beat does is open your eyes to what you have to work on."

Davis is going to be cautious with players recovering from injuries or surgeries. Defensive end Courtney Brown will not play in the scrimmage. Wide receiver Andre Davis, who missed practice last week because of a knee injury, is not expected to play.

Rookie center Jeff Faine will get plenty of work as will long snapper Ryan Pontbriand, but the other rookie draft picks, linebacker Chaun Thompson and defensive back Chris Crocker, are not expected to play because they did not practice until Friday.


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