By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
What: Browns vs. Detroit Lions, 7:30 p.m., in Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
TV: Because WKYC Channel 3 is committed to NBC coverage of the Summer Olympics, the game will be seen locally on WOIO-TV 19. But the production is done by Channel 3, with Jim Donovan on play-by-play and Bernie Kosar on analysis.
The set-up: This is the 11th consecutive year the Browns and Detroit Lions play in the preseason. The series was concocted by former Browns President Carmen Policy and originally dubbed the Great Lakes Classic, with the winning team gaining possession for a year of the “coveted” GLC Trophy – a bronzed barge representing the Great Lakes. The barge was heavy and expensive, reportedly created at the cost of $10,000. Alas, the teams stopped handing over the barge after Policy split to build a winery in Napa Valley, Calif., in 2005. It was last seen collecting dust in a broom closet in Browns headquarters.
Series history: The teams have split, 5-5, in the Browns expansion era preseason series. Overall, the Lions lead, 24-18-1 in preseason. The Lions were one team that consistently beat Paul Brown’s 1950s powerhouse. In regular-season games, the Lions own a 14-4 lead.
Lions update: One of four NFL teams, with the Browns – to never appear in a Super Bowl, the Lions ended a 12-year playoff drought in 2011 with a 10-6 record and wild-card berth. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns, his favorite receiver being All-Pro Calvin Johnson (96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TDs). With expectations raised this year, they suffered numerous arrests in the offseason and numerous injuries in training camp, setting themselves up for a giant letdown. They are without their top two running backs, Jahvid Best (concussion) and Mikhel Leshoure (hamstring) on offense, and their suspect secondary is missing its best player, safety Louis Delmas (knee). Tackle Ndamukong Suh leads a formidable defensive front four.
Browns update: It’s the NFL preseason debut of quarterback Brandon Weeden. He will be without running back Trent Richardson (knee), but other rookies making their debuts are wide receivers Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin and Josh Cooper, and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Key players to watch who have had good training camps include running back Montario Hardesty, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Jordan Cameron. Defensively, the team will be without tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral surgery), linebacker Chris Gocong (Achilles) and probably defensive end Frostee Rucker (undisclosed).
Our take: Coach Pat Shurmur said he would probably play the starters for two series. Colt McCoy is expected to be the quarterback to follow Weeden. If the Browns still have hopes of trading McCoy, they would like to see him lead the team to a score, or two.
|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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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