We are 15 days away from the Browns season opener against the New York Jets and tonight will be the last time fans get to see the first-team players on the field for a significant portion of the game until then. A week filled with headlines about Johnny Manziel’s elbow can now finally end with some actual football.
The Browns will look to win their first preseason game in Tampa after losing both their home preseason games to the Redskins and Bills. Tonight’s game will be an opportunity for some veterans with guaranteed jobs to polish their game before the season starts, and an opportunity for some guys with a lot to prove to make a statement that they belong on the roster.
One of these players with much to prove is former quarterback converted wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. Pryor has yet to play in a preseason game and this could be his final shot to show he deserves a spot to play in Cleveland on Sundays.
Another player who has missed both preseason games so far is rookie running back Duke Johnson. The Browns running back situation has not looked as clear cut as it seemed at the start of camp, as Isaiah Crowell has not played well in the first two preseason games, and Terrence West had a solid game last Thursday against Buffalo. It is not out of the realm of possibility that if Johnson has a big game tonight, he could end up being a workhorse running back for this team, since no one has taken hold of the number one running back spot convincingly.
Cleveland is never in a good situation when it comes to quarterbacks, and tonight Josh McCown will look to ease some of the panic among Browns fans. McCown goes up against his former team, where he played last season and ended up with a 1-10 record in 11 starts. He will likely play deep into the third quarter and Thad Lewis will finish out the game.
The Buccaneers start number one overall draft pick Jameis Winston, who was impressive last week against the Bengals. This could be the best chance we have to judge both of these teams and both of these quarterbacks until the regular season starts, as most of preseason there is extremely limited time given to first-team players to see game action.
The theme of the preseason is to stay healthy, and the Browns in that regard have not exactly passed with flying colors, but aside from that being the main hope of the night, the battle with the Bucs should be as good a measuring stick as any thus far to see where this team is at heading into the 2015 season.