Observation Deck: Cleveland Browns

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
12:50
AM ET
DETROIT -- Put a seven-win team and a four-win team on the field for the first practice game of the preseason and the result probably won't be pretty.

The Cleveland Browns' preseason opener Saturday against the Detroit Lions fit the expectation.

Neither team's starting units did much that stood out, as the old "Great Lakes Classic" turned into a field-goal fest.

Detroit fans got to cheer at the end, as Kellen Moore picked apart the Browns' reserves to give the Lions the game-winning touchdown with 1:05 left. Detroit won 13-12.

Some other thoughts on the Browns' first preseason game of the year:
  • Coach Mike Pettine said no decision has been made on the starting quarterback in the second preseason game in Washington. Brian Hoyer started the first game, and there is much speculation that Johnny Manziel will start Week 2. At this point, it might be interesting to see Manziel operate against and with starters. Hoyer had success against Detroit's second-team defense, which is what should happen. If Manziel could get time against the starters, it would give him one more chance to prove he belongs.
  • The varying and different blitzes that Pettine's scheme will use were in evidence early, as two exotic blitzes on third down contributed to ending Detroit drives. On the first, safety Jordan Poyer and cornerback Isaiah Trufant combined to rush Matthew Stafford. On the next, Trufant came free amidst the trees on the line and forced a bad Dan Orlovsky pass. Pettine has said plays will be designed in different games to feature different blitzers, and this night seemed to feature the defensive backs.
  • Manziel kept the ball and came up short on a read-option run on his first possession of the game. The third-and-1 play looked ugly, and Manziel said the problem was the initial "mesh" with the running back (Terrance West) was poor, which "threw our timing off a little bit."
  • Donte Whitner has promised that coming over the middle against the Browns will be a punishing experience. He proved that in the first quarter with a clean but tough hit on running back Theo Riddick. The shoulder-to-chest hit sent Riddick to the sidelines for the rest of the night. Whitner was not flagged, but he later complained to the officials when the Browns' MarQueis Gray was hit well after a pass sailed past him. "I feel like if it were me, I'd have gotten the flag," Whitner said. He said he has to play with a target on his back, placed there by the officials. "Especially since I wanted to change my name to Hitner," he said.
  • Josh Gordon did not play after Hoyer's last pass in the back of the end zone sailed through his hands. Pettine said he "got nicked." ... Guard John Greco had a highlight-reel block, peeling back to de-cleat Darryl Tapp. ... WR Charles Johnson helped himself with some catches and good runs after the catch. ... Both inside linebackers made plays -- Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey. ... Of the defense, Whitner said, "Right where we need to be." ... Manziel was the Browns' leading rusher. ... Ben Tate averaged 4.2 yards per carry, West 2.2. ... Trufant showed why he will make the team, and why Pettine likes him so much. He plays in nickel situations, and he plays special teams. His hit on a kickoff coverage contributed to a Lions fumble that, after a review, officials determined was indeed a fumble and the ball belonged to Detroit.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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