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Game day blog: Browns vs. Eagles (preseason game No. 3)

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 24, 2012

The Browns suffered a 27-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the third preseason game of the year for both teams.

Here's the game story

CLEVELAND: If the Browns’ starters didn’t want to reveal any secrets in their preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, then mission accomplished.

Other than ineptitude, they didn’t show much of anything.

A horrendous first half by the Browns led to the Eagles’ 27-10 rout. A scheduling quirk pitted the two teams against each other in preseason game No. 3 and the regular-season opener Sept. 9, so neither side wanted to tips its hand Friday night.

Regardless, the Browns failed to maintain the momentum they gained last week with a solid performance against the Green Bay Packers. They also spoiled some of the buzz created by soon-to-be owner Jimmy Haslam III sitting in the Dawg Pound and interacting with fans during the first preseason game at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“I am not sure we can say we did much good in that first half,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “We turned the ball over. We gave up big plays. We did find a way to drive the ball, but you can’t turn it over. All of the things that you can’t do, we found a way to do it. It’s not good enough.”

The first quarter was a nightmare for the Browns. They had three fumbles and lost two of them, committed three penalties and had a punt blocked. The offensive line struggled to keep up with the Eagles’ speed and allowed three sacks.

“This one doesn't count,” center Alex Mack said. “The next one does. We'll be motivated and see what we can fix.”

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden started strong but fizzled as everything seemingly collapsed around him. He completed his first four passes for 66 yards before finishing 9-of-20 for 117 yards with a passer rating of 64 and two fumbles.

“It’s on me,” Weeden said of his fumbles. “I’ve got to watch it, learn from it. I’m sure we’ll do some drills to work on it, and we’ll get it fixed.”

The Browns’ promising opening drive ended in disappointment when defensive tackle Derek Landri strip-sacked Weeden on first-and-goal from the Eagles’ 12-yard line. Defensive end Trent Cole recovered at the 30 with 9:38 left in the first quarter, negating the progress made by Weeden’s notable completions of 28 yards to rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon, 20 yards to tight end Alex Smith and 12 yards to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

The Browns, though, got the ball back almost immediately. During the Eagles’ second play from scrimmage, rookie quarterback Nick Foles, who started in place of the injured Michael Vick, threw a deep pass into double coverage to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and cornerback Joe Haden intercepted it at the Browns’ 9.

After both teams traded three-and-outs, the Browns literally dropped the ball again. Running back Montario Hardesty fumbled for the second time in as many games, and Eagles defensive end Darryl Tapp recovered at the Browns’ 15 with 5:34 left in the opening quarter.

“I’ve got to hold onto the ball,” said Hardesty, who had eight carries for 12 yards. “For me, that kind of defined my night and I wasn’t out there long enough to really do anything after that.”

Three plays later, the Eagles capitalized when Foles hit tight end Brent Celek with a 7-yard touchdown pass. Celek caught the ball near the 4, spun past free safety Eric Hagg and ran into the end zone for a touchdown with 4:18 left in the first quarter.

With two minutes left in the first quarter, the Eagles extended their lead to 14-0 after a series of breakdowns by the Browns. On third down, Tapp forced Weeden’s second fumble. Then Keenan Clayton blocked Reggie Hodges’ punt, and Curtis Marsh recovered at the Browns’ 3. Two plays later, Foles connected with running back Dion Lewis for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

The Eagles nearly scored another touchdown with 13:35 left in the second quarter, but Foles’ 23-yard pass to wide receiver Damaris Johnson was ruled incomplete after a replay review showed Johnson was out of bounds when he caught the ball in the end zone. The Eagles then settled for Alex Henery’s 41-yard field goal, which gave them a 17-0 advantage with 13:31 left in the second quarter.

Weeden and Co. finally found a spark, but their 10-play, 65-yard drive stalled in the red zone. On second-and-6 from the Eagles’ 15, Weeden’s pass into the end zone went off the hands of wide receiver Greg Little as safety Phillip Thomas fought for the ball. The Browns settled for Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal, trimming their deficit to 17-3 with 9:37 left in the first half.

Quarterback Colt McCoy and most of the Browns’ backups entered the game late in the second quarter. McCoy completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Moore with 14:56 left in the fourth quarter and finished 7-of-9 for 74 yards before quarterback Seneca Wallace took over with a little more than 11 minutes remaining.

“I feel really comfortable with where I’m at,” McCoy said. “My mindset is to be ready to go in when I am called upon. It’s not about counting your reps. It’s about making your reps count.”

When the dust settled, the Browns had six penalties and three turnovers — including an interception by Wallace.

If those mistakes aren’t corrected, the Browns’ Week 1 rematch against the Eagles will be just plain ugly.

“I’m not worried, disappointed or concerned,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to get it fixed. … We need to play better. I’m encouraged because I’ve got a bunch of guys in there that when I talked to them after the game, I could see their jaws lock and understand what we need to get done.”

Here's the notebook (By Beacon Journal sports columnist Marla Ridenour):

CLEVELAND: Soon-to-be Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III made good on another promise Friday night.

As the Browns hosted the Philadelphia Eagles, Haslam found a prime spot in the center of the Dawg Pound at Cleveland Browns Stadium, entrenching himself eight rows up for part of the first half.

At his introductory press conference on Aug. 3, Haslam vowed to mingle with the masses at Browns’ family night during training camp and to sit in the stands for a preseason game.
Besieged by fans, Haslam didn’t see much of the action, posing for photos and signing autographs. Haslam wore a brown polo shirt with the team logo and slacks.

President and CEO of Pilot Flying J truck stops, Haslam is awaiting league approval of his purchase of the Browns from Randy Lerner. Interviewed by Jim Donovan of WKYC (Channel 3) during the third quarter, Haslam said he had been told the vote will come during the scheduled owners’ meeting in mid-October.

Haslam is paying about $1 billion for majority ownership. Lerner has already moved back to New York.

Asked his impressions on the state of the roster, Haslam said on WKYC, “If you look, we have a chance to start six rookies day one, I think that says a lot about the type of talent we’re accumulating. There’s been a huge turnover in the roster. I think we went from the second-oldest team in the league two or three years ago to now the second youngest.

“It’s going to take a little time. We’re in this for the long run. We’re not going to knee-jerk, we’re going to hang with it, we’re going to build through the draft. Hopefully in two or three years we’ll have the kind of talent, the kind of team the Philadelphia Eagles do.”

During pre-game warm-ups, Haslam spent a lengthy time on the field talking to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. Haslam also planned to accept an invitation to pick the brain of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Haslam and Browns president Mike Holmgren also spoke to Eagles coach Andy Reid, a close friend of Holmgren’s.

In-game injuries

Browns fourth-year defensive end Marcus Benard, who missed the final 12 games last season after being hurt in a motorcycle accident, suffered an elbow injury with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter. Benard was immediately taken to the locker room and did not return. He was seen going into the X-ray room after the game with his left arm heavily wrapped and in a sling.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said receiver Jordan Norwood suffered an eye injury.

Hug for Haden

Shurmur showed he’d made up with cornerback Joe Haden, whom he kicked out of practice on Wednesday when Haden grabbed receiver Travis Benjamin’s jersey. Haden returned for that afternoon’s walk-through and Shurmur said later that day the air had been cleared.

After Haden thwarted a possible Eagles score by intercepting a Nick Foles’ pass intended for DeSean Jackson at the Cleveland 9 in the first quarter, Shurmur hugged Haden when he returned to the sideline.

Buster Skrine replaced Haden in the second quarter.

Good news on T-Rich

Browns General Manager Tom Heckert told Donovan during the pre-game show there’s “a pretty good chance” rookie running back Trent Richardson will play in the Sept. 9 opener at home against the Eagles.

The third overall pick, Richardson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9. It was the second procedure on the knee in six months for Richardson, who suffered a torn meniscus in Alabama’s BCS title game.

Also encouraging was the fact that Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson was back on the field before the game without a walking boot and had no limp. Among the inactives, Patterson suffered a right ankle injury when teammate Ray Ventrone rolled on his leg Aug. 10 against the Detroit Lions.

Patterson would be the logical choice to start if Haden receives a four-game league suspension after reportedly failing a drug test.

Interest in Colt?

Heckert also told Donovan he’s “sure” the Browns will get phone calls about quarterback Colt McCoy, but added that the Browns are “in no hurry to do anything.”

Inactives

Browns – Richardson, Patterson, strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (left knee), tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed), running back Chris Ogbonnaya (walking boot on left leg), cornerback Antwuan Reed (left leg), strong safety Usama Young (reported hamstring), strong safety Ray Ventrone (right hamstring), weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (torn right Achilles’ tendon), rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho (undisclosed), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (walking boot on right leg) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (torn pectoral muscle May 16 and out at least until late October).

Debuts/returns

Browns who made their preseason debuts after missing the first two exhibition games: middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (shoulder), defensive end Frostee Rucker (right knee) and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (pelvis). Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (head), tight end Jordan Cameron (back) and Benjamin (undisclosed) returned after missing the second preseason game.

Brownies

Game captains were Jackson, tight end Alex Smith and long snapper Christian Yount. … Announced attendance was 54,550. … The Browns wore Brown jerseys.

Pregame notes

Inactive players: Browns -- Rookie running back Trent Richardson (had arthroscopic surgery on left knee Aug. 9), strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (left knee), tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed), running back Chris Ogbonnaya (wore walking boot on left leg Friday), cornerback Antwuan Reed (left leg), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), strong safety Usama Young (reported hamstring), strong safety Ray Ventrone (right hamstring), weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (had surgery Aug. 10 to repair torn right Achilles’ tendon and is out for the season), rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho (undisclosed), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (wore walking boot on right leg Friday) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (had surgery to repair torn pectoral muscle May 16 and is out at least until late October). Eagles -- Quarterback Mike Kafka, quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Riley Cooper, safety Colt Anderson, safety Tom Nelson, linebacker Casey Matthews, offensive tackle Jason Peters, guard/tackle Todd Herremans, defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

Lineup changes: Browns -- Running back Montario Hardesty will start in place of Richardson; tight end Jordan Cameron for Watson; weakside linebacker Kaluka Maiava for Gocong; rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn for Taylor; and rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson for Fujita. Eagles -- Left defensive end Cullen Jenkins will start in place of Babin; defensive tackle Fletcher Cox for Jenkins; right offensive tackle Dennis Kelly for Todd Herremans; and quarterback Nick Foles for Vick.

Top storylines1. The third exhibition game is normally treated as a “dress rehearsal,” but that won’t be the case tonight because of a scheduling quirk. The Browns will also host the Eagles in the regular-season opener Sept. 9, so neither team will tip its hand in a meaningless preseason game. Browns coach Pat Shurmur said his starters will play for about a half, and Eagles coach Andy Reid said his first-string players will play for one quarter. “Vanilla” is the operative word for the schemes that will be employed tonight. 2. Although the game plans will be watered down even more than usual for an exhibition game, it’s important for the Browns to keep their momentum alive after a solid showing last week against the Green Bay Packers. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden wants to continue to develop chemistry with his receivers. The defense hopes to create turnovers and play well against the run, though a key injury assures defensive coordinator Dick Jauron’s men won’t be tested tonight like they will in Week 1. The Eagles, though, will be without Michael Vick, who’s recovering from bruised ribs. Rookie Nick Foles will start in Vick’s place. 3. NFL teams must trim their rosters to 75 players on Monday, so this will be a final audition for some of the Browns’ 89 players. The cut to a 53-man roster will be held on Aug. 31. Some players on the bubble include rookie fullback Brad Smelley, tight end Evan Moore, strong safety David Sims, wide receiver Jordan Norwood, undrafted rookie wide receiver Josh Cooper and wide receiver Carlton Mitchell. 4. The following Browns players are set to make their 2012 preseason debuts after missing the first two exhibition games with injuries: middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (shoulder), defensive end Frostee Rucker (right knee) and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (pelvis). Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (head), tight end Jordan Cameron (back) and rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin (undisclosed) are set to return to action after missing the second preseason game last Thursday against the Green Bay Packers.

Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns hope to maintain momentum without revealing any secrets against Eagles. 2. Nate Ulrich’s list of top 10 Browns players to watch tonight against the Eagles.
 

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