Lions vs. Browns: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More
The Cleveland Browns will host their second consecutive preseason game on Thursday evening at FirstEnergy Stadium when they with the Detroit Lions.
Even without No. 1 running back Trent Richardson on the field, the Browns showed encouraging signs in winning the opener against the St. Louis Rams, 27-19, with especially impressive play from quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Although the No. 22 overall pick in last year's draft hasn't been named the starter, he's taken reps exclusively with the first team and completed 10-of-13 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown last week.
Now that Richardson is back in the fold, it willl be interesting to see how Cleveland changes its offense with such a dynamic, versatile presence in the backfield at least for the beginning of the contest.
Meanwhile, the Lions have the dynamic combination of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in the passing game but are now complemented by running back Reggie Bush in the backfield.
Johnson caught all of Stafford's three completions for 58 yards in a home win over the New York Jets in Week 1 of the preseason, while Bush took on a light workload of three carries for a mere five yards.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan isn't likely to reveal too much regarding how he'll utilize Bush, but the Lions' No. 1 back should get more work this time around.
And that's not even to mention the defenses. These two teams selected back to back in the NFL draft, each fortifying its front seven with freakish athletes.
Ezekiel Ansah has filled in nicely on Detroit's defensive line and had a pick-six off of Mark Sanchez on the opening drive in his first NFL action.
The Browns took Barkevious Mingo sixth overall, and he's made an immediate impression in adding depth to the new-look 3-4-hybrid attack deployed by new defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Let's take a closer look at when the game gets underway, some players to watch for each team and a brief prediction as to how the showdown will play out in Cleveland.
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland
When: Thursday, Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: See Local Listings
Detroit Lions Affiliates
WXYZ 7 (ABC—Detroit)
WNEM 5 (CBS—Saginaw)
WSYM 47 (Fox—Lansing)
WXMI 17 (Fox—Grand Rapids)
WFQX 33 (Fox—Traverse City)
WJMN 3 (CBS—Escanaba MI)
WUPW 36 (Fox—Toledo)
Cleveland Browns Affiliates
WKYC 3 (NBC—Cleveland)
WYTV 33 (ABC—Youngstown)
WBNS 10 (CBS—Columbus)
WHIO 7 (CBS—Dayton)
Live Stream: NFL.com (subscription required)
Betting Line: Even (h/t Bovada)
Detroit (h/t MLive.com): CB Chris Houston (migraines), CB Chris Greenwood (hamstring), CB Ross Weaver (undisclosed), CB John Welding (undisclosed), S Louis Delmas (knee)
Cleveland (h/t ClevelandBrowns.com): CB Leon McFadden (groin), RB Montario Hardesty (knee), WR David Nelson (knee), WR Jordan Norwood (hamstring)
Lions Player to Watch: Ezekiel Ansah
The former BYU standout is still a raw commodity, but he made quite the opening statement against the Jets.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that despite Ansah's limited football background, he should have a fairly significant role as a rookie:
If Ansah's maiden performance is any indication, perhaps there's nothing wrong with throwing him into the gridiron gauntlet and seeing how he fares. It helps that he was measured coming out of college at 6'5" and 271 pounds with 4.63 speed in the 40-yard dash.
That's downright terrifying, considering Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley form one of the more talented defensive-tackle tandems in the NFL as it is.
Thus, the Browns are going to have a hard time blocking up front for their dual first-round picks of 2012 in Weeden and Richardson. It will be interesting, though, to see how Ansah and the rest of the line fare against the likes of Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz.
The battle in the trenches may be more worth watching to the casual fan than usual, and now that Cleveland has albeit a short game tape on Ansah, perhaps he won't be quite as effective.
Browns Player to Watch: Trent Richardson
Optimism as a Cleveland sports fan is a fickle concept, especially when it comes to the Browns. That said, even in the midst of yet another dire season in 2012, Richardson refused to miss games if he could absolutely help it.
In nine of the 15 games he suited up, the third overall pick played with broken ribs. It hurt to breathe, much less take a beating between the tackles.
So now that Richardson is recovered from a shin injury and set to hit the gridiron presumably healthy, there's good reason for the Dawg Pound to be extremely hopeful and positive.
At least for the next two or three years, that is, according to B/R injury expert Will Carroll.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Richardson will play only a couple of series, citing head coach Rob Chudzinski:
Browns HC Rob Chudzinski said RB Trent Richardson will play "a couple of series" Thursday vs. Detroit.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 14, 2013
It makes sense that the Browns are being cautious with Richardson, since he figures to be the workhorse in Norv Turner's offense. Cleveland must see something resembling the value Richardson promised with his gaudy draft status despite the volatile nature of his particular position.
Richardson seems ever fragile, and he would put Browns fans and management at ease by showing burst and the all-around skill set that could make him a superstar in the very near future.
If Jets QB Mark Sanchez could shred the Lions secondary (10-of-13, 125 yards, 1 TD) with Bilal Powell as his No. 1 running back and without Santonio Holmes at receiver, it stands to reason Cleveland's offense could do similar damage.
Do you buy or sell the notion that the Browns' QB competition is close?
Again, that comes down to how well the Browns are able to block up front. The injury list for the Lions secondary is rather long, so Weeden's receivers shouldn't have much trouble creating separation.
According to the Associated Press (via ESPN), Chudzinski recently said that the battle for the starting QB spot is "close" between Weeden and Jason Campbell, so the former clearly still has something to prove.
Look for Weeden to step up and play well yet again, while Campbell should keep putting points on the board if he wants to remain in the competition.
The Browns secondary also isn't much to speak of beyond Joe Haden, though, and according to what Chudzinski said in his presser on Wednesday (via Browns.com), safety T.J. Ward likely won't be in the lineup.
That should translate to at least one touchdown drive for the Lions, unless Horton dials up some truly exotic schemes, which is highly unlikely given the fact that it's the preseason.
This should be somewhat of a high-scoring affair, but Cleveland will prevail at home to move to 2-0.
Final score: Browns 31, Lions 24
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