NFL Preseason Preview - Philadelphia (2-0) at Cleveland (2-0)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Though the third game of the preseason is usually the one
in which NFL teams are most apt to show their hand, expect the Philadelphia
Eagles and Cleveland Browns to remain rather poker-faced when they get
together on Friday.
The two clubs will be squaring off just 16 days before they'll be facing one
another again with a lot more on the line, with the Eagles also invading
Cleveland Browns Stadium for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener. As a result,
both figure to be very vanilla with the game plans and likely less inclined to
have prominent players on the field for extended periods.
Philadelphia treated Monday's Week 2 matchup at New England as its primary
warm-up for the real games, with the majority of the Eagles' starters working
into the third quarter of their 27-17 win. That wasn't the case for Michael
Vick, however, as the notoriously brittle quarterback saw action for only six
plays before exiting with a rib contusion midway through the first quarter.
Vick, who was also forced into an early exit during Philadelphia's preseason
lid-lifter against Pittsburgh because of a bruised throwing thumb, should be
fine for the Week 1 matchup with the Browns but won't participate in Friday's
tilt. With main backup Mike Kafka also on the shelf due to a broken left hand,
impressive rookie Nick Foles will lead the Eagles' offense at the outset of
Foles delivered a second straight strong performance after relieving Vick
against the Patriots, with the 2012 third-round draft choice amassing 217
yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-28 passing with one interception. He also
came through with a pair of scoring throws in the Eagles' 24-23 decision over
the Steelers on Aug. 9 and has registered a 118.4 quarterback rating through
his first two outings, the best of any player thus far in this preseason.
The Browns received a good effort from their first-year signal-caller as well
in their most recent go-around, with expected starter Brandon Weeden
contributing to last week's 35-10 triumph at Green Bay by completing 12-of-20
passes for 118 yards while operating the entire first half.
Cleveland's defense did its part as well, limiting a sloppy Packers squad to
228 total yards and 10 first downs and forcing four turnovers on the night.
Reserve safety David Sims had the most notable takeaway, intercepting Green
Bay quarterback Graham Harrell and returning the pick 38 yards for a touchdown
early in the third quarter.
The Browns succeeded on that side of the ball despite the absence of several
starters, with linebackers D'Qwell Jackson (shoulder), Scott Fujita (leg) and
Chris Gocong (torn Achilles) and linemen Phil Taylor (torn pectoral), Ahtyba
Rubin (pelvic surgery) and Frostee Rucker (knee) all not present. Nickel back
Dimitri Patterson also missed the contest with a sprained right ankle.
Fujita, Taylor, Gocong and Patterson are among the Cleveland contingent
expected to be held out once again this week, a group that will also include
rookie running back Trent Richardson as the fifth overall pick in April's
draft continues to recover from a recent knee scope.
Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (head) and tight ends Benjamin Watson
(undisclosed) and Jordan Cameron (back), all of whom were inactive against the
Packers, could be ready to return for Friday's test. Jackson and Rubin are
possibilities as well if the coaching staff elects to give the two valued
defenders the green light.
In addition to Vick and Kafka, other notable Eagles certain to sit out are
defensive end Jason Babin (calf), offensive tackle Jason Peters (torn
Achilles), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (brain surgery). Cornerback
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who left the New England game with a shoulder
injury, and linebacker Jamar Chaney (hamstring) are both questionable for
Gocong, who's out for the entire 2012 season, and Patterson are one of four
former Eagles on the current Cleveland defense, with veteran cornerback
Sheldon Brown and end Juqua Parker also having previously played for
Philadelphia. Several ties to the Eagles also exist on the sideline and in the
front office, with head coach Pat Shurmur having served as Philly's
quarterback coach under Andy Reid from 2002-08 and general manager Tom Heckert
spending nine years with the Eagles organization before joining the Browns.
The Eagles have won the last two meetings, including a 24-14 verdict in
Philadelphia last season, to take a 5-3 lead in their overall preseason series
with the Browns.
08/22 10:10:17 ET
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