Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
The schedule game: Now that NFL training camp rosters are virtually set, it’s time to stroll through the Browns’ 2013 schedule.
Always remember, in the NFL it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them. We can’t predict injuries, suspensions, and surprises. What you see in April might not be what you get in November.
Game 1, home v. Miami Dolphins: The draft’s two quickest (and thinnest) pass rushers launch their NFL careers against each other. Dion Jordan v. Barkevious Mingo. And then these sideshows: Brandon Weeden v. Ryan Tannehill. Mike Wallace v. Joe Haden.
Game 2, at Baltimore Ravens: Paul Kruger returns to Baltimore for his first game against his former team. Ozzie Newsome personally delivers Kruger's Super Bowl ring.
Game 3, at Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson’s first meeting against the Browns in 2009: 25 carries, 180 yards, three touchdowns, including a 64-yard highlight reel jaunt. This will be the Browns’ last, lamented visit to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, one of the great eyesores in professional sports.
Game 4, home v. Cincinnati Bengals: Just when you thought the Browns had seen the last of James Harrison, the great headhunter turns up in Bengals stripes. Past Browns victims Mohamed Massquoi, Josh Cribbs and Colt McCoy are all gone. Who’s next?
Game 5, home v. Buffalo Bills: Will it be Kevin Kolb running an up-tempo, no-huddle offense or EJ Manuel operating the zone read option? Regardless, this NFL Network prime-time matchup of familiar non-playoff sufferers raises the possibility of another instant classic. Pick the score: 6-3 or 8-0?
Game 6, home v. Detroit Lions: A regular-season renewal of the hallowed Great Lakes Classic. Carmen Policy and Matt Millen are on hand as honorary coin-tossers. Dust off the barge!
Game 7, at Green Bay Packers: CBS lead broadcaster Jim Nantz speculated that if both teams got off to decent starts, this could be the network’s lead national game. So, c’mon Packers, don’t let us down. Win some games early.
Game 8, at Kansas City Chiefs: Former Eagles coach Andy Reid vs. former boss Joe Banner. Notorious NFL Network Reid critic Mike Lombardi evades a pre-game handshake.
Game 9, home vs. Baltimore Ravens: Browns seek to end five-year home losing streak against Ravens. In pre-game ceremonies, former Browns GM George Kokinis is inducted into the Browns Ring of Honor.
Game 10, at Cincinnati Bengals: Former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham returns to Paul Brown Stadium in a Browns uniform. Bengals President Mike Brown collects past due locker rental fee after the game.
Game 11, home v. Pittsburgh Steelers: Prior to kickoff, Pittsburgh rookie safety Shamarko Thomas presents Banner with a box of chocolates in appreciation of the draft-weekend trade that enabled the Steelers to select him.
Game 12, home v. Jacksonville Jaguars: Former Browns receiving legend Mohamed Massaquoi and Browns rookie cornerback Leon McFadden conduct a duel for the ages.
Game 13 at New England Patriots: Away from pre-game warmups, Bill Belichick, Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and Lombardi huddle with team attorneys to exchange post-season trade proposals.
Game 14, home v. Chicago Bears: Browns coach candidate Marc Trestman sends Banner flowers before the game, with the note: “Thanks, again.”
Game 15, at New York Jets: Quarterback Geno Smith is ambushed for 10 sacks and turns it over four times in the Browns’ first-ever victory in MetLife Stadium.
Game 16, at Pittsburgh Steelers: Thad Lewis renews his rivalry with the Steelers in the annual JV finale against Pittsburgh.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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