The fourth preseason game in the NFL is the least meaningful of all the meaningless games that predate the regular season.
Unless, of course you are one of the players who is trying to make the final 53 man roster on a particular NFL team, then it is anything but meaningless.
There will be more talk today as to who will make the final roster for the Cleveland Browns than last night’s 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Browns finish exhibition play at 2-2, narrowly missing out on the preseason playoffs.
The most high level roster battle is the position of back up quarterback between Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, but other spots are probably far more important, because if Brandon Weeden stays healthy, neither McCoy or Wallace, or third stringer Thaddeus Lewis may never see the field.
If coach Pat Shurmur picks his reverse QB based on last night, Wallace is going to get the gig.
Last night, McCoy showed off all the weaknesses people point out when saying he’s not a starting quarterback in the NFL. His first pass hung out WR Greg Little to dry, allowing him to take a vicious hit, then on a 3rd and 7 play, he threw a check down pass to Travis Benjamin for four yards.
Perhaps that was the play call from upstairs, but it didn’t look good.
On his second series, he threw an interception which led to Chicago’s first touchdown. He wound up hitting just 2 of 5 throws for 16 yards.
By contrast, Wallace looked decisive in moving the Browns to their only first half touchdown, a toss to WR Rod Windsor.
To be fair, Wallace had the benefit of being on the field with RB Brandon Jackson, who showed why he should be the starter in week one if Trent Richardson is not ready to play. The former Packer gained 48 yards in seven carries, and hit the hole hard once he got the ball.
Which is why he should get the nod over Montario Hardesty, who could have a problem making the final roster. Hardesty was tentative early, but finally attacking on a couple of decent runs, the longest being 14 yards. He wound up with 24 yards on six attempts.
Josh Cribbs did a nice job of hooking up with Wallace on the touchdown drive, grabbing two passes for 34 yards. The talk of Cribbs possibly getting cut is flat-out ridiculous. He’s still dangerous with the ball in his hands, and even though he doesn’t run great routes as a wide receiver, if the passer gets him the ball, something good will usually happen.
The other negatives, in addition to McCoy’s poor game, was an injury to LB James Michael Johnson, who is counted on to be a contributor right away this season. Hopefully, a reported injury to his oblique isn’t serious and he can play on September 9th against the Eagles.
There was concern about the special teams having two punts blocked in the last two games, but the guess here is the players out on the field for those blocks will not be here when the games start to count.
The big news will come tonight at 9 PM when the rosters have to get down to 53 players. Will there be surprise cuts? It wouldn’t be shocking to see players like Hardesty, Mohammed Massaquoi, and even Ben Watson being let go.
It’s no secret the Cleveland Browns are getting young, and if the plan is to get this team in a position to make some noise in 2013 and beyond, you may just see some veterans looking for a new team come tomorrow.