St. Louis vs. Cleveland: Browns Preseason Week 3 Preview

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St. Louis vs. Cleveland: Browns Preseason Week 3 Preview
Mark Duncan/Associated Press

The third exhibition game is commonly referred to as the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, and the Cleveland Browns are hosting the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium.

This makes Wednesday's announcement of Brian Hoyer as the opening-day starting quarterback extremely important, as it allows No. 6 to work exclusively with the first team through practice and in Saturday's matchup.

Seeing if Hoyer's play dramatically improves over his 2-of-6 Monday Night Football effort now that he won the QB competition is going to be an interesting storyline to follow.

Cleveland's main focus this week needed to be centered on building chemistry within the offense. The disconnect between quarterbacks and receivers was alarmingly bad in the loss to Washington on Monday.

St. Louis ranked ninth overall in run defense last season, which makes this an important test for Browns running back Ben Tate. The veteran will look to build off a stellar performance against the Redskins that saw him rumble off an average of 5.1 yards per carry on 10 rushes.

Rookie Justin Gilbert starts once again opposite Joe Haden at outside cornerback. It's good that the youngster gets to experience a true pocket passer in Sam Bradford who has offensive weapons like Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt at his disposal.

It should be a good way to gauge where Gilbert is at in his development to become a lockdown corner.

On paper, the Browns defense looks like an overall force with playmakers on the front seven and secondary. The question is whether the sputtering offense can remain on the field long enough to keep the defenders fresh and effective.  

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