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Browns Preseason Game 2 Preview: Last chance for the quarterbacks before starter is named

Aug 18, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi |


Photo/Getty via ESPN

What: Browns (0-1) v. Washington Redskins (1-0), 8 p.m., in FedExField; Landover, MD.

TV: ESPN and WKYC-TV3 with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters.

The set-up: Coach Mike Pettine still hopes to name his season starting quarterback on Tuesday. That means this is it – the last chance for Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel to influence the decision. Pettine said that Hoyer would start, for the second game in a row, but Manziel will enjoy reps with the No. 1 offensive line. The plan was for Hoyer to take the first two series and Manziel the next two, but Pettine may have to alter that to expose Manziel to the Redskins’ first-team defense. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has said he would play his first team into the second quarter, but not the entire first half.

Did you know?: Former Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, signed in April as an unrestricted free agent, is third on the Washington depth chart after Robert Griffin 3 and Kirk Cousins. McCoy had a good debut in a Redskins uniform. In the team’s 23-6 win over New England, McCoy entered in the second half and completed 8 of 9 passes for 102 yards and a 7-yard touchdown pass. His passer rating was 150.9.

Redskins update: Like the Browns, they’re breaking in a new coach again. Owner Dan Snyder fired the Shanahans – head coach Mike and son Kyle, the offensive coordinator who now holds the same position with the Browns – and hired former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, younger brother of Jon, the ESPN analyst working the game. Gruden is the Redskins’ seventh coach since 1999; same number as the Browns. Gruden’s challenge is to resuscitate quarterback Robert Griffin 3, who suffered a bad second season after a severe knee injury as a rookie. Gruden may discard the quarterback-dangerous read-option plays that Shanahan (Kyle) used to make him a rookie phenom. And if Gruden eliminates the read-option, how will that affect running back Alfred Morris, who has rushed for 2,888 yards in his first two seasons?

Browns update: Aside from the conclusion of the quarterback competition, the things to watch are: 1. Rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert makes his preseason debut. Gilbert was out with a hamstring injury last week. His competition against Buster Skrine was derailed this week when Skrine suffered a thumb injury that will keep him out through the preseason. 2. The wide receiver situation after Josh Gordon remains unsettled and up for grabs. Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins have been the most consistent in practice, but Charles Johnson and Travis Benjamin have enjoyed good weeks. Another player to watch is Taylor Gabriel, who had a good first game. 3. Pettine said he wants to see rookie running back Terrance West get some reps with the first team. He and Ben Tate both looked good in limited time in the Detroit game. This should also be the preseason debut of undrafted rookie Isaiah Crowell, who has a chance to leap-frog over a trio of veterans and into the third spot on the depth chart. Also, tight end Jordan Cameron is slated to get his first action in the preseason. 4. One of the few battles still ongoing is between inside linebacker Craig Robertson and rookie Chris Kirksey. Pettine has said he can see this competition continuing beyond this game.

Injury report: Browns – Ruled out were: offensive lineman Michael Bowie (shoulder), defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist), cornerback Pierre Desir (knee), linebacker Darius Eubanks (shoulder), offensive lineman Randall Harris (knee), cornerback T.J. Heath (hip), linebacker Eric Martin (concussion), linebacker Keith Pough (ankle), cornerback Buster Skrine (thumb), cornerback Isaiah Trufant (knee) and safety K’Waun Williams (hamstring).


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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