In lieu of a normal OBR Daily News and World Report, here's a quick-hit twelve-pack of things to look for in the Browns' pre-season match up tonight against the Bills.
(I'd make it a case, but after 13 or 14 I'd be babbling and muttering things along the lines of "I think the grey face mask makes Ted Washington look fat", which is not good for anybody. So, we'll save the case for the "Tales From A Notebook", which will appear shortly after the conclusion of tonight's game.)
(Unless I "fall asleep" because I'm "not sober".)
- Charlie Frye getting two to two-and-a-half quarters of work with the
first team and showing more than just occasional glimpses of why this
organization has hitched their collective wagons to the third-round pick.
He did not get Brett Favre's arm surgically transplanted to his right
shoulder in the off-season, so he needs to show that last week's abysmal
pass/decision on the interception was an aberration and will not be the norm.
Also—and as delusional as it may sound—he needs to trust his offensive line,
stay in the pocket and work his progressions more than he has done thus far.
Unless offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon's "game plan" calls for a
Chinese fire drill on three-quarters of the pass plays, he needs to stop with
the "one Mississippi, two Missis… yo G, gotta go" style of play that he's
displayed in the first two pre-season games. You don't want to curb his
playmaking ability, but he must realize that, much like breaking wind in a
crowded movie theater, there is a time and place for everything.
- Chaun Thompson is expected to get the start at inside linebacker and
will, in all likelihood, need to overwhelm the coaching staff in order to stave
off rookie D'Qwell Jackson and keep the starting job handed to him at the
start of camp. For his part, Jackson must prove that
he's not a liability against the passing game and the two miscues last week were
aberrations and not a worrisome trend. Head coach Romeo Crennel
will not suffer blown coverages for very long, especially from a rookie.
- Will backup quarterback Ken Dorsey replicate the somewhat serviceable
journeyman he looked like last Friday against the Lions, or will he revert back
to the erratic form he displayed in the pre-season opener and the majority of
training camp? If it's the former, a spot on the final 53-man roster could
be his for the taking. The latter would have general manager Phil
Savage scurrying for the Tuesday's roster-cut printout and, possibly, the
speed dial number of Vinny Testaverde's agent.
- The continued blossoming of rookie running back Jerome Harrison.
The fifth-round pick out of Washington State has been one of the
biggest surprises of camp, and his performance in last week's game showed a
glimpse as to why he has made the oft-injured Lee Suggs expendable in the
eyes of the coaching staff.
(Speaking of Harrison, can he get a new nickname? Every time I hear him referred to as "The Ghost", I turn around and fully expect to see Lawrence blowing open holes for Gavin while Babs is in the stands cheering on everybody's All-American. Can somebody please work on this?)
- The battle for what could turn out to be one roster spot between Suggs and
William Green. On the basis of Suggs' failed trade to the Jets, it
would seem that Green has the edge. However, Green's production thus far
this pre-season—eight carries for -1 yards—does little to inspire confidence.
Then again, neither does Suggs missing 23 of 48 games due to injury in his
three-year career. Seems like having to choose between getting punched or
kicked in the testicles, but maybe that's just me.
- More of rookie Kamerion Wimbley blowing by quality left tackles en
route to the quarterback. That was cool. And something that hasn't
been seen in these parts in a long, long time.
- Ross Tucker continuing to further cement exactly why I am an idiot for
being utterly indifferent to his acquisition from the Patriots nearly three
weeks ago. Not only has he stabilized a position that was the absolute
definition of chaos the first two weeks of camp, HE HAS ALSO STABILIZED A
CHAOTIC POSITION. Is he a Pro Bowler? I don't even know if he could
carry a 200 average, let alone make it on tour. But, what I do know is he has
shown that the center position is seemingly in solid if unspectacular hands.
- Can Nat Dorsey and/or Kirk Chambers do something, anything, to
assuage the fear of either of them being forced into the starting lineup?
Should Ryan Tucker suffer a setback in his return from knee surgery, or
go down at some point in the regular season, God help us all—especially
Charlie—if this meeksome* twosome are plans B1 and B2.
(*: Yes, I make up words at my own leisure. If it's good enough for Tyson, it's good enough for me. That's my creed… my motto… my credo, if you will.)
- Travis Wilson continuing to impress the coaching staff and making his
holdout at the beginning of camp an indiscernible object in the rearview mirror.
The rookie out of Oklahoma has seemingly passed both Josh Cribbs and Frisman Jackson on the
depth chart, and could very well open the season as the team's third or fourth
- Will he or won't he? That is perhaps the singular question for
tonight's game: will we see Braylon Edwards in action on the field or
will he be merely a nice cut-away sideline shot. An Edwards' appearance
would be the culmination of an amazing comeback from major knee surgery in
January and would give both the team and fans a huge boost in confidence heading
into the regular season. However, there is this nagging voice in the back
of my head that constantly whispers "what type of society do we live in where
K-Fed is allowed to drive a pimped-out Ferrari in a way other than serving as a
valet?" Oops, wrong voice. The other voice actually says "if they
play him tonight, will they be pushing him and their luck?" Just asking,
- The main event: Sean Jones versus Brodney Pool.
Jones has a slight lead to start at the safety position opposite Brian Russell, but it is far from a done deal that he will open the season in that
capacity. Observers have said that the fierce but amicable competition
between the two has actually made both better players, a fact that will only
help the club when the "loser" eventually takes over for Russell.
- Joe Jurevicius becoming more involved in the offense and less like the third guy in an adult film. One catch in two games. Veteran or not, Jurevicius is experiencing a new offense and new quarterback and needs to get acclimated to and utilized by both. Then again, we are talking about pre-season. Not a real game. Pre-season. We're talking about pre-season, man. Pre-season? C'mon, man, we're talking about pre-season right now.
- I want to see a beer in the fridge every single time I open it tonight. Anything short of that will be unacceptable and will make the night a total loss regardless of the final score.