Despite another impressive showing by the Cleveland Browns on both offense and defense, the dominant performance from Brandon Weeden wasn’t enough to put a smile on people from the team at the end of the second preseason game, with the list of injured player getting quite ridiculous considering the season hasn’t even started.
So Weeden played well, throwing 8-of-12 for 117 yards and two touchdowns as the Browns beat the Detroit Lions 24-6, but too many injuries happened in a very short amount of time to keep Browns personnel optimistic, especially hurting their depth at running back and right guard.
Running back Dion Lewis broke his left leg, making Trent Richardson even more valuable than before because the other running back, Montario Hardesty, is out for at least a month after knee surgery. Rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo was hospitalized in the Cleveland Clinic due to a bruised lung, and with so many expectations and hopes relying on Mingo’s impact on defense, it becomes another huge loss for the Browns, who are used to things not really going their way.
That wasn’t the end of it, but the Browns also had positive things to focus on, like Weeden cementing his place as the starting quarterback for the team, finding Jordan Cameron for a couple of touchdowns, but that wasn’t the end of it. Trent Richardson made his preseason debut for the season, looking quick and elusive, running for 33 yards on 6 carries, but it was also the Browns’ defense, giving Matthew Stafford a very hard time, who was already in trouble without Calvin Johnson in the game, that deserved some praise for their performance.
The Lions couldn’t get anything going on the ground, with Reggie Bush running for 15 yards on 8 carries, and doing most of his damage as a receiver, with Stafford continuously looking only at one target to pass to, Bush becoming the replacement to Calvin Johnson, his usual preference. Bush finished with 5 receptions for 44 yards, but that was about it from the Lions on offense, while Travis Benjamin continued to impress for the Browns on punt returns, having a touchdown taken away from him after a holding call.
Hard to say what to expect from the Browns, especially in the very tough, as always, AFC North. Finishing last is a very strong possibility, but things should go a lot better than next season, if the long list of injured players comes back quicker than expected. The preseason tells us that Weeden is going to make a lot less mistakes than before, while Trent Richardson and the revamped defense are ready to have a better season.
But there’s a reason most still see them as the bottom feeders in the division, and that’s the depth issue and their lack of talent at too many of the skills position. With all these injuries to so many players, that serious problem that was already going to limit their success chances this season just got a whole lot bigger.