Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski previously planned to rest his starters in the preseason finale against Chicago. That was until his new Browns looked like the old ones against the Indianapolis Colts this past Saturday.
The Browns seemed like a promising team after two games. Quarterback Brandon Weeden entered the game ranked No. 2 in the NFL with a 139.8 rating, with three TD passes and no interceptions. Tight end Jordan Cameron was considered the next Jimmy Graham after four catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns through two games. More important, Cleveland was 2-0.
After a lackluster performance during a 27-6 loss against Indianapolis, Chudzinski is considering playing his starters in Week 4 of the preseason on Thursday.
"We’re going to approach this next game that those guys are going to play,'' Chudzinki told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “And then I’ll make that determination later in the week as it goes on.”
Chudzinski may want his young team to receive more reps, but very little can be gained by playing his starters this week.
Chicago plans to play its backups, so even if Cleveland plays better, it would be like the varsity team defeating the junior varsity. Chudzinski would walk away with a false sense of security and not know if his team is better prepared for the season opener against Miami.
It does not seem worth risking the health of Cleveland’s starters against players wanting to make a splash play to impress their coaches before final cuts. Browns receiver Josh Gordon will miss the first two games of this season due to a league suspension, and risking the health of running back Trent Richardson in a meaningless game is definitely not worth it. Unless you are Jets coach Rex Ryan, and winning a preseason game is more important than keeping your players healthy.
This could be a simple attention grabber by Chudzinski to wake up this team. However, if Weeden lines up under center on Thursday, it was more than just a threat.
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