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Gordon bright spot in otherwise dismal dress rehearsal

There weren't a lot of bright spots for the Browns in their dress rehearsal loss to the Bucs, but Josh Gordon showed he can still play at a high level.

It was supposed to be the dress rehearsal--the prelude to the regular season.

However, the Browns showed they might not be ready yet for prime time as they dropped their third-straight game of the preseason, 30-13.

Unfortunately, the brightest spot for the Browns won't even be eligible to play until the fifth week of the regular season. 

The Browns showed they have plenty of work to do, particularly on defense as Tampa Bay put up 305 yards in the first half against the Browns starters, racking up 20 points on offense and a touchdown on a 73-yard punt return to build a 27-3 lead before the Browns scored their only touchdown of the game. Overall, the defense gave up 361 yards.

Robert Griffin III and the offense moved the ball on the Bucs, but sacks and penalties prevented the offense from being successful.

Jackson summed up the problems of the first half.

"No. 1, penalties on offense," Hue Jackson said at halftime. "No. 2, we didn't finish drives, particularly on third down."

Griffin was sacked fives times in the first half and overall, the Browns gave up eight sacks. 

"We have to block better," Jackson said. 

However, one player who looked like he was ready to play was Josh Gordon, who hadn't played in a game since December of 2014. Gordon will miss the first four regular season games due to a suspension imposed by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policies. Gordon raced by Brent Grimes on the third play of the game for a 44-yard completion and then leaped high and brought down a 43-yard pass in the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter.

"It was good to end (the first half) on a strong note," Griffin said. "We executed well and Josh made a great catch."

Extra Points

RG3's Showing: QB Robet Griffin III started the game 4-4 for 57 yards before throwing an incomplete pass. He finished the fist half 8-of-14 for 119 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.  He ran once for four yards and was sacked five times. Griffin did have a nine-yard run for a first down called back on a holding penalty. Griffin's two biggest plays were to WR Josh Gordon, one for 44 yards and another for a 43-yard touchdown. QB Josh McCown followed Griffin and was 6-of-11 for 65 yards, including two sacks. QB Cody Kessler played the final quarter and was 5-of-6 for 27 yards, including a sack.

Gordon Shines: On the third play from scrimmage on offense, WR Josh Gordon caught a 44-yard pass from QB Robert Griffin III to set up the Browns first score. Gordon beat CB Brent Grimes on the play. Late in the first half, Griffin threw a deep ball to Gordon, who hauled it in for a 43-yard touchdown again beating Grimes. Gordon had two receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

Haden and Hawk's Debut: CB Joe Haden started and played for the first time since Nov. of 2015. WR Andrew Hawkins saw his first action of the preseason and caught one pass for two yards. Haden was credited with one tackle.

Cam Plays: C Cameron Erving started and played the first half after injuring his ankle earlier in the week.

Tramon Sitting Out: CB Tramon Williams sat out with a toe injury, but it's not believed to be serious. Williams was demoted this week and replaced by CB Jamar Taylor. CB Trey Caldwell (hamstring), DL Nick Hayden (knee), DL Nile Larence-Stample (shoulder), WR Ricardo Louis (hamstring), RB Raheem Mostert (hamstring) and RB Glenn Winston (shoulder).

Not Much Defense: The Buccaneers scored on their first four offensive drives, resulting in two touchdowns and two field goals, before the Browns were able to force back-to-back punts on the final two possessions of the first half. The Browns gave up 305 yards of offense in the first half with the starters playing. Overall, the Browns gave up 361 yards, including 285 yards against the pass and 76 against the rush. The Browns had given up 375 yards rushing in the first two games, but the Bucs moved the ball through the air with ease.

Not so Special: Sandwiched in between the four offensive scores for Tampa Bay, the punt coverage team allowed a 73 yard punt return by WR Adam Humphries for a touchdown. Later in the game, the punt coverage team allowed another long return, but prevented a score.

Danny's Play: DL Danny Shelton stripped RB Storm Johnson of the ball in the third quarter and CB Charles Gaines recovered on the Bucs' 11. The Browns settled for a 26-yard field goal by K Travis Coons to make the score 27-13 with 5:26 left in the third quarter.

Young D-Line: Rookie DL Emmanuel Ogbah and DL Carl Nassib tried to continue their strong preseasons. Nassib had a sack in his first two games, while Ogbah had one. Ogbah batted down a pass by QB Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter. Ogbah finished with three tackles.

Kicking Battle: K Patrick Murray had the first opportunity to kick a field goal and connected from 35 yards out and added an extra point. K Travis Coons converted a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Coleman's Start: Rookie WR Corey Coleman played for the fist time and caught a nine-yard pass, but it was called back by penalty. He returned two punts for five yards.

Gilbert Hurt: CB Justin Gilbert broke up a pass intended for WR Vincent Jackson on third-and-3 to force the Bucs to kick a field goal on their first drive. He then was beaten by WR Mike Evans for a 49 yard pass, before leaving the game in the second quarter with an injury.

Gabriel Strong: WR Taylor Gabriel led the Browns with six receptions for 60 yards in his bid to make the roster.

Cuts Coming: Roster cuts begin this week as teams must get to 75 by Aug. 30. The final roster must be to 53 by Sept. 3

On the Ground: The Browns moved the ball on the ground in the first half with RB Isaiah Crowell gaining 39 yards on eight runs and Duke Johnson, Jr. with 22 yards on three runs. RB Terrell Watson had nine yards on five carries. 

Tough Calls: RT Austin Pasztor was called for holding after Griffin had a 9-yard run for first down, and the Browns had to punt after an incompletion. The punt was returned 73 yards by Adam Humphries for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 17-3 lead.. Meanwhile earlier, DL Jamie Meder had pressure on QB Jameis Winston, but grabbed Winston's face mask and on the re-do of the play, Winston hit Charles Simms for a three-yard touchdown on third-and-goal to make the score 10-3 at the time. 

Flag Day: The Browns were penalized nine times for 68 yards.

No Pressure: The Browns had no sacks against Tampa Bay's starters in the first half. 

Preseason Finale: The Browns will close out the preseason Thursday night Sept. 1 at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Chicago Bears.


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