John Taylor's Pre-Game 6-Pack

Belly up to John's cyber bar for the first time in 2008. But bring your own beer. John doesn't share. That's just how he rolls.

Thoughts, notes, questions and suggestions as the Cleveland Browns pop the top on the semi-official start to their 2008 National Football League season. 

(Writer's note: the title of the article is just that, and is no way indicative of the amount of alcohol that will be consumed in the Taylor household this evening.)

  • What in the name of Paul Brown is going on here?  We are about to embark on the first "pre-season" game of the 2008 season, and there are little or no starting spots up for grabs? That'd be like France… ahhh, screw it.  Need to save those for the regular season.  Anyway, sure, you have the Andra Davis versus Leon Williams linebacker battle, and Rex Hadnot and Seth McKinney duking it out for the right guard slot – although Ryan Tucker will be the starter upon his return to health.  But, besides those positions, the starters are locked-in and set.  When the hell's the last time that happened?

  • And, and top of the above, no quarterback controversy, relatively speaking?  This new and improved club is killing me here.  You know how hard it is to come up with pithy notes when you're dealing with a quality football team?  It's like sticking Chris Rock on network television.  At seven o'clock.  On a Sunday.

  • That being said, there are some interesting battles behind the starters that are worth taking a look at.  In that vein, Travis Wilson, you're on.  The ongoing injury saga surrounding Joe Jurevicius has left the door wide open.  It's time for you to turn from sideline Spam into on-the-field T-bone.  Yes, you have made tremendous strides this past off-season.  coughcoughit'sabouttimecoughcough.  Now, you must carry that progress over into semi-real game situations.  The talent is there; hopefully, for both the sake of Wilson and the Browns, the mental progress and work ethic will continue as well.

  • We would be remiss in not mentioning the secondary deserves a long, hard look this evening.  Not the starters, mind you; Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald, if healthy, are going to surprise a lot of people around the league.  No, it's the nickel and dimers who will be under the microscope all pre-season long.  Granted, tonight will hardly be a test as the likes of Terry Cousin, A.J. Davis and Jereme Perry will square off against Kellen Clemens (chuckle) and Erik Ainge (guffaw) – is it any wonder the Jets consummated The Trade? – but it could be a good barometer as to the state of the position.  A poor performance will ramp-up the organization's internal chatter regarding the pursuit of a veteran cornerback.

  • I guess, technically, you could say that there is a battle for the starting defensive end spots on the line, but, given how head coach Romeo Crennel and new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are expected to rotate their linemen throughout the game, who the starter is really doesn't matter. (Thank God for commas.  I was almost out of breath.)  What will be interesting, though, is getting a glimpse as to how they might be used in the regular season.  Even though we will likely only see the starters on both sides of the ball for a quarter or so, perhaps some clues can be gleaned by how Shaun Rogers, Corey Williams, Robaire Smith and Shaun Smith are utilized in their limited time on the field.

  • Alex Hall and Travis Thomas.  These two rookies are the latest in a long line of camp sensations who have captured the imagination of the fans and the media alike, and are the current frontrunners for the "Ben Gay Memorial Camper of the Year" award.  Both have looked the part in non-tackling drills.  Now, the real contact begins and we will be able to get a better grasp as to whether these two are the real deal or just Gay-like flashes in the pan. Honestly, the performance of this twosome is one of the precious few intriguing elements of tonight's "contest".  Well, that and seeing how long it takes for an announcer to refer to the Browns' opponent as the "New York Bretts".  Good times.  Can't wait.

  • LAST CALL:  Browns 31, Jets 16.  Derek Anderson struggles just a touch in his limited time, while Brady Quinn, going up against players with brown shorts as part of their employer's dress code in the near future… c'mon, lighten up.  Just checking to see if you guys were still awake.  I think. 

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