Derry: There But for the Grace...

One team playing tonight had a Hall of Famer at QB. Phew... good thing that's not our guys....

Oh, yeah, there was a football game played in Cleveland on Thursday evening. A preseason game that featured a team with its sights set on the Super Bowl and another with its sights set on, well, having a Hall of Famer play quarterback this season.

Thank goodness, the Browns are the former and not the latter.

The potential quarterback controversy involving Pro Bowler Derek Anderson and former first-round draft pick Brady Quinn pales in comparison to anything involving Brett Favre, whose brief retirement ended with his being traded to the New York Jets less than 24 hours before the teams took the field for the initial preseason game for both teams.

There's no doubt the game played second fiddle to the media frenzy that accompanied Favre's arrival in Cleveland and the much-ballyhooed press conference held 90 minutes before kickoff.

A tip of the cap goes to Browns radio voice Jim Donovan, who donned his preseason cap and handled the play-by-play for the local television broadcast, and former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who handled the color details.

Donovan made the obligatory references to Favre during the pregame commentary, but then, for the most part, he stuck to the Browns' perspective.

What they saw during the first quarter was a defense that susceptible to the pass, but solid against the run. In fact, it was a huge fourth-and-one stop by safety Sean Jones and company that set up the Browns' first successful scoring drive of the year.

I loved the effort of second year cornerback Brandon McDonald, who definitely looks like he has a very bright future both against the pass and when called upon against the run. He's a sure-handed tackler who should be a perfect complement for fellow second year corner Eric Wright,

Jamal Lewis did his usual fine job of finding the holes created by the talented offensive line; Dante Stallworth and quarterback Derek Anderson looked like they've been working together for many years, and Braylon Edwards capped the drive with a magnificent one-handed snag in the end zone for six points.

If that is any indication of what's in store for the 2008 season, this offense could once again be one of the most potent in the NFL.

Soon thereafter, a major storm rolled in and stopped action for an hour and pretty much ended the night for most of the starters.

Thank goodness this was not a national broadcast crew. Had it been, we would have been subjected to 60 minutes of Favre. Instead, Donovan and Kosar did a great job of giving insight into the team, including Bernie's insight on third string quarterback Ken Dorsey's importance to the team as a mentor for his fellow quarterbacks.

That then gave head coach Romeo Crennel and his staff an extended look at many of the players who are either fighting for increased playing time or just for a roster spot.

One scenario included Travis Wilson and Josh Cribbs, both of whom have a chance to see increased action at wide receiver until Joe Jurevicius returns from his off-season knee problems.

Both players looked very good while working with Quinn, who continues to impress with some pinpoint passes into tight coverage.

Defensively, I liked what I saw from veteran cornerback Terry Cousin, who helps fill what could be a big hole if indeed the team suffers any injuries.

The one big play the Jets did hit on offense came against first year corner A.J. Davis and veteran safety Nick Sorensen, who got caught looking into the backfield. I would have been a lot more disappointed had it been McDonald and Jones or Wright and Brodney Pool that had gotten beat on the play.

The second half was pretty much played before a sea of near-empty orange seats as it featured a lot of players who will be out of football soon.

The Jets hit a couple of big plays to pull out a 24-20 victory, but Crennel had to be happy with what he saw from the players who will be on his roster come September.


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