Backups will be fighting for jobs in Eagles-Browns preseason game

Aug. 20—Anyone watching the preseason game Aug. 21 between the Eagles and Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium really won't be able to identify the players without a program— or at least a roster with all 85 names on it.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said none of the Browns starters will play in the game scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has the same plan for his team. The Browns and Eagles held joint practices Aug. 18 and 19 in Berea, and as far as the coaches are concerned, the starters got their work in on the practice field.

Browns starters will play against the Bears on Aug. 27 in the third preseason game. The Browns won't play another game until they visit the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 11 in the season opener.

The plan to play the starters against the Bears three days before rosters are cut to 53 makes the game against the Eagles ultra important for players trying to impress their position coaches and earn roster spots. Josh Dobbs seems to have the edge over Josh Rosen to be Jacoby Brissett's backup quarterback when the regular season starts. But other jobs are not as settled.

"It's a great opportunity," Stefanski said on Aug. 19. "We're not playing the starters. But we are playing a lot of guys who are fighting for their football lives, so to speak. Excited to see those guys go out and perform.

"We talked about it earlier. "It's reps out here on the practice field. It's reps on the game field and everything they do we are evaluating. They know that, so it's a very competitive environment."

Some of the players to keep an eye on include:

Demetric Felton (25) and Ja'Marcus Bradley (84) on kick and punt returns plus their work at wide receiver; Isaac Rochell (98), Alex Wright (94) and Curtis Weaver (59) at defensive end; Tommy Togiai (93) and Perrion Winfrey (97) at defensive tackle; Zaire Mitchel-Paden (81), Johnny Stanton (40) and Marcus Santos-Silva (87) at tight end; Tony Fields (42) and Dakota Allen (56) at linebacker plus Richard LeCounte (39) and D'Anthony Bell (37) at safety.

Running back Jerome Ford (34) isn't fighting for a roster spot, but another strong performance by the rookie could make trading Kareem Hunt or D'Ernest Johnson a more viable option for general manager Andrew Berry.

Rookie wide receiver David Bell (18) received a lot of hype when the Browns drafted him in the third round. He was compared to Jarvis Landry because he displayed good hands when he was at Purdue.

Bell began training camp with a stress fracture in his foot. The contest against the Eagles will be the first chance to see him in game action with the Browns.

"He's a young player and he's coming along," Stefanski said. "He was out there for a little bit with that injury. He had a false start and dropped a ball (in practice against the Eagles). But he also made a couple of plays. He's just a young player and needs more reps."

Backups on the offensive line will be scrutinized against the Eagles. Tackle James Hudson (66) and Alex Taylor (70) plus guards Hjalte Froholt (72) and Drew Forbes (79) will be out to prove they belong.

Keep an eye on Froholt. He could end up as the backup center to than Pocic if he plays well vs. the Eagles.


When: 1 p.m., Aug. 21

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

Records: Eagles 0-1, Browns 1-0

TV: WEWS, NFL Network