The Cleveland Browns’ bye week gave their veteran quarterback a chance to rest after a rough outing. The Chicago Bears hope their week off gave their rookie quarterback an opportunity to learn from some mistakes.
Both teams will try to bounce back from losses and get to .500 when they meet at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
After not being sacked in either of Cleveland’s first two games, Trent Dilfer was dropped four times as the Browns lost 13-6 to Indianapolis on Sept. 25. Dilfer, who was 22-of-29 for 208 yards, limped slightly after being hit low in the third quarter.
“I was a little sore, but I feel good,” Dilfer said Monday. “I got a little rest last week and worked out a lot and feel stronger and will be ready to go this week.”
The Browns were hurt by special teams mistakes, as careless penalties cost Dennis Northcutt two touchdowns on punt returns.
“You have only a few opportunities maybe a year to get them and when they present themselves you have to get them,” Northcutt said.
The Browns also were hurt by blunders in their season-opening 27-13 defeat to Cincinnati. In that game, two touchdowns were called back by penalties and Dilfer was intercepted twice.
In between its losses, the Browns beat the winless Green Bay Packers, and Sunday’s game is the first of five straight against teams with losing records. Cleveland, though, knows it can’t be overconfident.
“Anything can happen in the NFL,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. “San Diego goes into New England and they put 41 points up on New England.”
The Bears also suffered from costly turnovers in losing to the Bengals. Rookie Kyle Orton was intercepted five times in Chicago’s 24-7 loss Sept. 25.
“I don’t think it was a rookie day or anything like that,” said Orton, who was 17-of-39 for 149 yards. “I had a rough day. Everybody has it. Hall of Famers have it.”
Orton, who became Chicago’s starting quarterback after Rex Grossman broke his ankle in the preseason, has a league-low 41.9 passer rating.
Chicago coach Lovie Smith tried to inject some life into the passing game by replacing wide receiver Justin Gage in the starting lineup with rookie Mark Bradley. A second-round pick out of Oklahoma, Bradley has four catches for 57 yards as a reserve this year, compared to Gage’s two catches for 31 yards as a starter.
Bradley led NFL receivers in catches and yards in the preseason playing mostly against reserves, but failed to move ahead of Gage on the depth chart before the season started.
“He had a great preseason. He’s made plays when we’ve given him the opportunity,” Smith said. “We felt like it’s time for him to move into that slot and go from there. He has big-play potential.”
While Bradley will get a chance to energize an offense that has totaled just 421 yards in its two losses, running back Cedric Benson hopes for an opportunity to contribute. The fourth overall pick in the draft, Benson carried 16 times for 49 yards in a 38-6 win over Detroit in Week 2 but did not play against Cincinnati.
“It’s another hurdle, another adventure life has presented me, and I’m going to take it in stride,” Benson said. “They just keep saying I need to know the playbook, but if I’m never out there it would be hard to know how much I do know. My time is going to come. They’re going to throw me out there in the fire and I’ve got to perform.”
With Benson watching from the sideline, Thomas Jones posted his second straight 100-yard game with 27 carries for 106 yards against Cincinnati.