Most teams go into the preseason with four goals. No. 1 is to avoid injuries to key players. No. 2 is to develop cohesion for the starters. No. 3 is to get a good look at the all-important depth which will be a key factor over a 16-game regular season. Finally, a distant fourth is to develop a winning attitude.
Unfortunately for the Browns, they were only able to achieve one of their four goals. Head coach Romeo Crennel got a long look at the players who figure to be listed second and third on the depth chart.
The reason, of course, was because the list of walking wounded grew longer every week, including five more players who went out in the loss to the Bears in the preseason finale.
Because of all of those injuries, there was very little opportunity for the starters to develop the continuity necessary to be a successful football team.
Not surprisingly, the Browns failed to win an exhibition game for only the second time in franchise history, the only other time being 1972.
That winless preseason is the least of Crennel's concerns as he prepares his team for the regular-season opener on Sept. 7 against the Cowboys at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Whether the Browns have a chance against a talented team like the Cowboys will depend a lot upon just how many of the injured players will be healthy enough to practice starting on Monday. At this point, that answer is not known.
One has to hope that the Browns will play better in this year's opener than they did a year ago in their 34-7 blasting at the hands of the Steelers. But a better showing could very well depend upon how many healthy bodies will suit up during practice.
Derek Anderson should be back, which is a good thing because Brady Quinn, even though he was much better against the Bears than he was in his first preseason start against the Lions, still has room for improvement. Quinn shows signs that he has the potential to be an excellent NFL quarterback, but that might be a year or two down the road.
One area offensively which remains very unsettled is the depth at wide receiver. With Josh Cribbs having seen limited action due to a high ankle sprain, the door was opened for a couple of guys to prove they deserve playing time. Most seemed to kick the door shut.
The injury to right guard Rex Hadnot, while certainly not insignificant, should be able to be overcome because of the team's depth on the line.
Defensively, the primary concern is at safety, where both starters have injuries that may or may not be significant. We'll find out very soon if Sean Jones and/or Brodney Pool will be able to contribute any time soon. If not, the high-powered Tony Romo-led Cowboys offense will be licking its chops.
Those injuries have taken the spotlight off the cornerback situation, which remains fragile at best.
Unfortnately, the offense and defense aren't the only problem areas. Cribbs' absence, along with the injury Thursday night to his replacement, Syndric Steptoe, leaves the Browns short on return men. And the injury to special teams standout Darnell Dinkins should not be overlooked, either. He does a great job on coverages.
At this point, we can only hope that the Browns will turn in a respectable showing against the Cowboys and give themselves a shot to win the game in the fourth quarter. Realistically, that might not be possible.