Cleveland Browns Win Preseason Opener Over Detroit Lions, 19-17


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The date is August 10, and this was the first preseason game of 2012 for the Cleveland Browns. With that in mind, it would be wise to

take the product on the field with a substantial grain of salt.

Like any preseason contest, there was both good and bad. Quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 34-yard pass down the sideline to fellow rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin? That was a great thing. Injuries to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (knee), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) and tight end Jordan Cameron (back)? Not so great.

It’s a tiny sample size in which to judge the team, but here are some observations from the Browns’ first preseason game:

  • Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz had a rude welcome to the NFL. In his time on the field, he was beaten several times, often looking overpowered against the Lions’ defensive line. Call it a dusting off of the cobwebs – Schwartz will be fine.
  • Wide receiver Josh Gordon looked like a guy who hadn’t played a football game in two years. He wasn’t particularly crisp in his routes, but again, that should change.
  • Running back Montario Hardesty played relatively well filling in for Trent Richardson. He finished with four rushes for 16 yards, showing off a little bit of his speed between the tackles. It’s hard not to see him as anything more than a backup, though.
  • Travis Benjamin was perhaps the most impressive rookie of the night, catching Weeden’s big downfield pass and finishing with two catches for 46 yards.
  • A number of rookies stood out, which is always a good sign. Linebacker James-Michael Johnson burst through the line for a red zone blitz late in the second quarter; wide receiver Josh Cooper had an impressive one-handed catch in the third quarter; fullback Brad Smelley (who will likely make the team) caught a pass for a touchdown; defensive tackle Billy Winn and cornerback Trevin Wade were all over the field, always in the action.
  • Best of all, there was a Carlton Mitchell sighting when he caught a 33-yard pass between two defenders late in the game.

As for the quarterbacks, Brandon Weeden finished the night 3-for-9 with 62 yards and an interception. Disgruntled backup Colt McCoy finished 6-for-8 with 88 yards (including a 42-yard pass to Cameron) and, as is the fashion for McCoy, he was sacked twice.

The game wasn’t always pretty, but it’s a start. The key is for the Browns to avoid further injuries, which currently seems like a daunting task. Either way, there is plenty of room for improvement before next Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.