Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has decided to rest the majority of his starters Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, the team announced this morning.
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to start in place of Brandon Weeden. Campbell missed practice Tuesday with an unspecified illness, but he is feeling better today, a team spokesman said. Third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer figures to receive a significant amount of playing time.
Chudzinski made his decision after weighing the risk of injury against the possibility of giving a young team that's learning new offensive and defensive systems more reps. He entered the week preparing as if his starters would face the Bears in the aftermath of the Browns' 26-7 preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Some of Chudzinski's first stringers will play, but not many. On Tuesday, he said some starters would receive 10-12 reps against the Bears.
Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin and right guard Oniel Cousins will play. Gordon, the team's No. 1 receiver, will miss the first two regular season games as he serves a suspension from the NFL for violating its substance-abuse policy. In other words, he could benefit from some extra work before the downtime.
On defense, right end Billy Winn and right outside linebacker Quentin Groves will play. Technically, they’re key reserves. Starting right end Desmond Bryant is out with back spasms and starting right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard has been dealing with a bothersome knee, though he practiced this week.
Spencer Lanning and Colton Schmidt will share punting duties. Schmidt is expected to hold for all place kicks and handle all kickoffs. The Browns were awarded Schmidt off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday. He and Lanning will battle for a job as the team's primary punter.
All NFL teams are required to trim their rosters to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday. The Browns have 75 players.
The Browns also provided an update on rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.
Mingo engaged in a weight-room workout this morning after doing some running Tuesday, a team spokesman said. Mingo has not practiced or played since Aug. 15, when he left a preseason win over the Detroit Lions with a bruised lung.