NFL Preseason Preview - St. Louis (0-0) at Cleveland (0-0) (ET)
(Sports Network) - The latest reboot of the Cleveland Browns franchise will be unveiled Thursday when the team kicks off its preseason against the St. Louis Rams.
A new management crew of team president Joe Banner, general manager Mike Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski have taken over the Browns and while rumors persist the new regime wasn't all that enamored with second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden, one of the team's first-round picks from a year ago, the Oklahoma State product will get every opportunity to turn things around if only because the other options on hand are journeyman Jason Campbell and the well-traveled Brian Hoyer.
Norv Turner was hired to take over Cleveland's offense and mold Weeden but figures to build around running back Trent Richardson.
"There have been a lot of things you look at from a mechanics standpoint and the job (Weeden is) doing by speeding up his feet and quickening his decisions," Chudzinski said when asked about Turner's impact on Weeden. "We haven't held back. We've thrown a lot at him, from a mental standpoint. We're pushing him hard and that's the way I'm used to and that's the way Norv coaches. He's responded well from that."
Defensively Ray Horton was brought in and will move to a 3-4 look with ex- Baltimore rush linebacker Paul Kruger and No. 6 overall pick Barkevious Mingo, brought in to be the impact edge players. Also, look for a breakout year from talented nose tackle Phil Taylor.
"One of the things that is important to me is having two coordinators calling the game that you have faith in," Chudzinski said. "I can focus more on game management, whether that's situational calls, whether that's replay, whether it's timeouts. Those are the big things that come up. Hopefully, guys that I trust and the way I do with our coordinators here, that will be a good help."
Chudzinski said he planned to play his starters for about a quarter in Thursday night's preseason opener.
"We are going to play our starters for the most part, for about a quarter," Chudzinski said. "That may vary from individual to individual. We will get our second group in there for the second quarter and third quarter."
The Rams, on the other hand, needed to add more playmakers for quarterback Sam Bradford, but they also needed to sure up the offensive line in front of him and were able to accomplish both goals, at least on paper.
St. Louis made some strides in protecting Bradford, allowing 20 fewer sacks in 2012 than they did in '11 but there is still plenty of room for improvement, particularly on the left side. The club made a significant commitment to ex- Dolphins tackle Jake Long, signing the former No. 1 overall pick to a four- year, $36 million dollar deal, in hopes of fixing that problem. Rookie Barrett Jones also has a real chance to help inside early.
The Rams also got Bradford a new toy by inking former Tennessee tight end Jared Cook to a five-year contract worth a million less than what Long got and then supplemented that with perhaps the most explosive player in the 2013 draft, West Virginia slot star Tavon Austin.
Defensively, the Rams really needed help in the back seven and were able to snare troubled but talented Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree late in the first round of the draft as well as a potential starting safety in T.J. McDonald.
"We are just going to carry some basic things into the game," St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said. "We have to prepare for their defensive front out of fairness to our guys and the quarterback so we'll do that and then try to keep things pretty simple."
- Cleveland Field Goal - 25-yarder by Brandon Bogotay.
- Cleveland Touchdown - 2-yard pass from Brandon Weeden
to Dion Lewis. (Shayne Graham kick). 14:56 remaining.
- Cleveland Touchdown - 91-yard punt return by Travis
Benjamin. (Brandon Bogotay kick). 13:49 remaining.
- St. Louis Touchdown - 3-yard pass from Sam Bradford to
Chris Givens. (Greg Zuerlein kick). 10:59 remaining.
- Cleveland Field Goal - 41-yarder by Shayne Graham.
- St. Louis Field Goal - 54-yarder by Greg Zuerlein.
- St. Louis Field Goal - 55-yarder by Greg Zuerlein.
- Cleveland Touchdown - 26-yard pass from Brian Hoyer to
Cordell Roberson. (Shayne Graham kick). 3:01 remaining.
- St. Louis Touchdown - 53-yard pass from Kellen Clemens to
Raymond Radway. (pass failed). 2:04 remaining.
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Brandon Weeden went 10-for-13 with 112 yards and a touchdown as the Cleveland Browns took a 27-19 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the preseason opener for both clubs.
Brian Hoyer also threw a touchdown pass as he went 10-for-14 with 100 yards for the Browns, who are coming off a 5-11 campaign as the team posted a losing season for the fifth straight year.
Sam Bradford was 5-for-8 with 102 yards and a touchdown and Kellen Clemens also had a touchdown pass along with two interceptions on 6-of-13 passing for 116 yards for the Rams, who went 7-8-1 last season as the team finished under .500 for a sixth straight year.
Brandon Bogotay kicked a 25-yard field goal to get the Browns on the board in the first quarter, and Dion Lewis caught a 2-yard scoring pass from Weeden in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
Travis Benjamin returned a punt 91 yards for a score and a 17-0 lead, but the Rams countered on a 3-yard score by Chris Givens from Bradford.
After Shayne Graham hit a 41-yard field goal for the Browns, Greg Zurelein countered from 54 yards out to make it a 20-10 game going into the halftime break.
Zurelein's 55-yard field goal accounted for the only points of the third quarter as it was a 20-13 game going into the final 15 minutes.
Hoyer and Cordell Roberson got together on a 26-yard score in the fourth to give the Browns a 27-13 lead, and Raymond Radway's 53-yard scoring catch from Clemens later in the frame accounted for the final score as the Rams went for two points and fell short.