Cleveland Browns Next Preseason Game With The Detroit Lions

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Cleveland Browns Next Preseason Game With The Detroit Lions
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OK, Browns fans, this Saturday night will see the Browns play an exhibition game against the new look Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

From one who has been covering the Lions through training camp, I can give you a pretty good idea as to what to expect to see from the Lions. You may be surprised.

Offensive Linemen

The Lions started addressing the offensive line with the trade of a 2010 fifth-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks for veteran guard, Rob Sims. Sims became expendable when the Hawks went from a man, to zone blocking scheme. Sims has settled in nicely between 10 year veterans Dom Raiola (center), and left tackle Jeff Backus.

On the right side, guard Stephan Peterman has been solid while Gosder Cherilus and Jon Jansen fight it out for the starting tackle assignment. Tackle Jason Fox, and guards Dylan Gandy and Manny Ramirez figure to see action.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford has won over the team, and the city of Detroit. His skills and confidence have soared since that fateful game played at Ford Field last season. You remember, the last play pass? The high, quick release, and accuracy that will make him one of the best in the business.

Backing up Stafford is Shaun Hill, who was picked up in a trade with the 49er’s this year. Hill has been a solid contributor who knows his place. He figures to see a lot of reps on Saturday.

Drew Stanton has been a bit inconsistent, but has good instincts for when to take off with the ball.

Running Backs

Kevin Smith, last season’s featured back is still rehabbing an ACL injury. He’s getting some limited reps in the preseason. The Lions traded up to draft Jahvid Best with the 30th pick overall.

Best is an electric back, with speed (4.30) to burn. Best is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and making a nice contribution as a receiver. DeDe Dorsey has shown some flashes in a back up role. Maurice Morris will likely see some action as well.

Wide Receivers

Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is a freak of nature. His patented leaping catches can not be defended. With a whole offseason to work with Stafford, there seems to be an almost psychic connection between the two.

Nate Burleson was also acquired from the Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent.

The Lions core group of receivers last year were a disaster. Johnson was getting double, and triple teamed routinely. Burleson has proven to be a reliable second, and even first option from every position.

Tight End Brandon Pettigrew, like Kevin Smith, is coming off an ACL tear. He’s seeing some limited action thus far, but looking good.

The Lions acquired TE Tony Scheffler in a three way trade with Denver, and Philadelphia. Scheffler has been a big target for Stafford. The Lions will show a lot of two TE sets, and have backups Will Heller and Jake Nordin taking some reps.

Other receivers to watch for are Derrick Williams, Bryant Johnson, and Mr. Irrelevant for 2010, Tim Toone.

Defensive Linemen

The Lions employ a 4-3 base defense. Last year’s defensive line was noted for being the most porous in NFL history. The Lions cleaned house in 2010.

At RDE, the Lions signed Kyle Vanden Bosch from the Titans. KVB is an explosive player and the voice of the defense. The Lions also acquired Corey Williams from the Browns to play along side KVB at the RDT spot. Williams never fit into the Brown’s 3-4 scheme, but has returned to form in a more comfortable assignment. Thanks, Browns!

Ndamakong Suh, the second pick overall in the 2010 draft hasn’t disappointed at the LDT position. Suh has all the skills of a veteran, and the athleticism that earned him an invitation to the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist.

Suh will be routinely double teamed. He plays inside and outside. Mike Vick is the only NFL QB who can run away from the “House of Spears”.

At the LDE position, Cliff Avril has been sharing reps with Willie Young, and a new acquisition (again, from the Seahawks), Lawrence Jackson. All three have tremendous speed from the edge.

The Lion’s revamped D-Line has become the strength of the defense.

Linebackers

Here’s where we see a drastic fall off in talent. On the left side is Pro Bowler Julian Peterson. Peterson is a solid run stopper and blitzer who was pressed into playing DE last season. He’s pure gold.

In the middle, the Lions have DeAndre Levy. Levy is a second year player who was a third-round draft pick last year. Levy is a project, but has risen to the challenge.

On the right, the Lions have Zack Follett. Follett, a seventh-round special teams ace last year (look him up on Youtube), has been given the starting assignment. He seems a bit lost at times.

Follett’s weak play has the Lions tinkering with Caleb Campbell, Isiah Ekejiuba, and Lee Campbell at the OLB spot.

The backups are Vinnie Ciurciu, Ashlee Palmer, and Landon Cohen. This is one area that the Browns can exploit, if Detroit’s D-Line does not get the pressure on the QB that they need to be successful.

The Linebackers are among the weakest position groups on the entire team.

Defensive Backs

There has been a revolving door when it comes to the secondary. The Lions traded for CB Chris Houston (Atlanta), and signed free agent Jonathan Wade. These very average CB’s are the projected starters.

The Lions drafted Amari Spievey in the third-round in 2010. Spievey will be a project who’s play has been marked by mental errors and poor positioning.

Dre Bly was brought in to mentor the kids. Bly had an interception against the Broncos last weekend.

The safety position is a bit better. Louis Delmas is the best, by far. He’s been severely hampered by a groin injury, and has been seeing very little action as a result.

The Lions will likely start C.C. Brown, who was picked up from the Giants, and rookie Randy Phillips. Phillips was injured at Miami (Fla) and missed a bowl game and the NFL combine.

Phillips has stepped up, and made plays. Brown’s performance has been average, at best.

Well, Browns fans, this is the Lions team that you will face come Saturday. If the Lion’s D-Line gets the job done, the Browns will go down. If that D-Line fails to get pressure on Delhomme and company, the outcome will be much different.

Will the Browns be able to neutralize Matt Stafford’s flying circus? Can they tame Jahvid Best? These will be key factors in deciding the outcome.

 

Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher report.  Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.

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