The Browns (1-3 in the preseason) fell to the host Chicago Bears (2-2) tonight in the fourth and final exhibition game of the year. Most of the starters from both teams rested on the sidelines while young, unestablished players battled for roster spots.
NFL teams must trim their rosters from 80 players to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday, so players on the bubble viewed the game as their final audition.
Two undrafted rookies stood out for the Browns: running back Armond Smith and cornerback James Dockery. Wide receiver Rod Windsor and defensive end Auston English were among the other players fighting to make the team who opened eyes.
Smith finished with 11 carries for 47 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run, and three catches for 21 yards. He also corrected the fumbling problem he had earlier in the preseason.
"I believe (and) I hope I extended my opportunity," Smith said. "I hope that the coaches give me another chance so I can improve and be an asset to the team."
Dockery was noticed for committing three penalties, all of which occurred on third down and helped the Bears continue scoring drives. He was called twice for pass interference and once for illegal contact. One of Dockery's penalties negated his interception.
Despite the miscues, Browns coach Pat Shurmur praised Dockery for his aggressive style during a postgame news conference. After playing in four exhibition games, Dockery believes he belongs on an NFL roster.
"I have a lot of confidence," Dockery said. "That’s always been my strong point. I’m not the biggest guy. I’m not the strongest or the fastest, but I have a lot of confidence and self-belief. So those are the things that carry me, and those are the things I was taught and raised growing up with. So those are the things I’ve got to continue to use, even at a higher level. Confidence is never going to lack. But I’ve got so much work to do, and I’ve got to clean up some things and continue to get better."
Windsor finished with three catches for 55 yards. He had a 38-yard touchdown reception from third-string quarterback Jarrett Brown, who completed 10-of-15 passes for 92 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
English demanded attention by recording two sacks. He also had a strip-sack last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
End 1Q: Bears 10, Browns 0 -- The Bears received the opening kickoff and orchestrated a scoring drive during their first series. Robbie Gould made a 22-yard field goal to cap the 16-play, 76-yard march that lasted 7 minutes, 36 seconds and give the Bears a 3-0 lead. The Bears later extended their lead with Browns rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard's help. He was penalized for roughing the passer and jumping offside during the Bears' eight-play, 67-yard touchdown drive. Quarterback Caleb Hanie put the finishing touches on the drive by connecting with wide receiver Johnny Knox for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 left in the opening quarter. Knox beat the coverage of cornerback James Dockery and safety DeAngelo Smith in the back corner of the end zone.
End 2Q: Bears 17, Browns 7 -- The Bears continued to take advantage of defensive penalties committed by the Browns. Bears undrafted rookie running back Robert Hughes rushed for a 2-yard touchdown, completing a nine-play, 50-yard drive with 5:08 left in the second quarter. The Browns were called for three penalties during the drive. Browns undrafted rookie cornerback James Dockery was called three penalties, including two during the aforementioned drive. One of the penalties negated an interception by Dockery. The Browns' offense finally got some momentum and capitalized with a scoring drive. Undrafted rookie running back Armond Smith ran for a 6-yard touchdown off left guard. Phil Dawson made the extra-point kick to trim the Bears' lead to 17-7 with 1:29 left in the first half.
End 3Q: Bears 17, Browns 7 -- There was no scoring in the third quarter, though the Browns flirted with trimming their lead to three points. The Browns opened the second half with a long drive that ultimately fell short on the goal line. Rookie fullback Owen Marecic had two chances to barrel into the end zone from the 2-yard line, but the Bears' defense stopped him each time.
End 4Q: Bears 24, Browns 14: The Browns trimmed their deficit to three points after quarterback Jarrett Brown completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rod Windsor with 11:43 left in the final quarter and Dawson followed with a successful PAT. Later, Bears linebacker Deron Minor picked off Brown, and the Bears' offense made the Browns pay for the turnover. Hughes rushed for another a 1-yard touchdown, helping extend the Bears' lead to 24-14 with 5:56 remaining.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Special teams are vital for those trying to nab the final spots on the Browns' 53-man roster. 2. Scouting Browns at Bears. 3. The Browns have several roster spots up for grabs in the preseason finale.
Top storylines -- 1. Most of the Browns' starters, including quarterback Colt McCoy and running back Montario Hardesty, won't play tonight, a team spokesman said. However, some of the team's rookie starters are expected to play. Offensive lineman Jason Pinkston is one of them. Pinkston will get a chance to prove he's worthy of replacing starting left guard Eric Steinbach, who had back surgery and was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday. 2. Several players who are on the roster bubble will try to impress Browns coach Pat Shurmur and his assistants during their final audition. NFL teams must trim their rosters from 80 players to 53 on Saturday. 3. The Browns have been plagued by injuries throughout training camp and the preseason. One of their main goals tonight will be to escape without adding to their list of wounded players.
Inactive players -- Browns: The team did not formally announce its inactive players. Bears: running back Marion Barber, linebacker Lance Briggs, long snapper Patrick Mannelly, wide receiver Sam Hurd, tight ends Kellen Davis and Desmond Clark, defensive tackle Anthony Adams and defensive end Corey Wootton.
Lineup changes -- Browns: The team did not formally announce its lineup changes. Bears: Brian Iwuh will start at weakside linebacker in place of Briggs; Matt Spaeth will start at tight end in place of Davis; Matt Toeaina will start at nose tackle.