The Browns host the Chicago Bears in the 2010 preseason finale for both teams. The Browns' top two quarterbacks -- Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace -- won't play and neither will Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy was announced as the expected starting quarterback for the Browns about an hour before kickoff. Todd Collins will start at quarterback for the Bears. Most of the other starters from both teams will likely receive little playing time if any at all. So tonight will mostly serve as an opportunity for lower-profile players to compete for roster spots. NFL teams must trim their 75-man rosters to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday. Pay close attention to special teams tonight. Several players on the proverbial bubble know they must impress on special teams to earn jobs. Tonight's game won't start until 8 p.m., and I have an 11:20 p.m. deadline. In other words, bear with me when it comes to online updates. They won't be as frequent throughout the game, but I promise to provide a recap in this space about an hour after the game is over. The good news? This won't be an issue during the regular season. All the Browns' 2010 regular-season games are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., so I'll be able to write for the web and the newspaper with time to spare. Trust me when I say I'm looking forward to that.
Final recap (postgame quotes included because they didn't make the print edition)
- Browns 13, Bears 10 -- With their victory, the Browns finished the preseason with a record of 2-2 while the Bears fell to 0-4. The outcome, however, really didn't matter because most of the starters for both teams either took the night off or barely played. Here's what was important for the Browns: Rookie running back Montario Hardesty carried the ball seven times for 25 yards and a 1-yard touchdown, but his NFL debut was marred by yet another injury. Hardesty left the game in the second quarter after hurting his left knee. He walked off the field and into the Browns' locker room after being examined by trainers. After the game, though, Hardesty left Cleveland Browns Stadium on crutches. He'll undergo an MRI Friday to find out the extent of his injury. "All I can do right now is just pray for the best and make sure that I stay strong-minded," Hardesty said. "Whatever (the injury) is, I'll be back." Quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace didn't play, allowing rookie quarterback Colt McCoy to start for the first time and receive his most extensive NFL playing time to date. McCoy fumbled the Browns' first snap of the game while Shawn Lauvao was playing center and he took three sacks, but he was also sharp throwing the ball. He completed all 13 of his passes for 131 yards without any interceptions. McCoy played the first two quarters and the Browns' first offensive series of the third quarter. "For a couple of series there, we were going against some of their [first-team defense]," McCoy said. "To be able to drive against them, to score against them, give credit to the offensive line and the backs. Montario did a great job when he was in. The receivers caught the ball really well." Several players made their cases for roster spots with Saturday's cuts looming. Running back James Davis carried the ball 15 times for 66 yards and caught five passes for 53 yards. "I just went out there and made the best of all my opportunities and it just came to me," Davis said. "Somewhere in the back of your head, you're always thinking about (roster cuts), but the only thing I can control is going out there today and playing the best I could." Wide receiver Bobby Engram had a team-high six receptions for 61 yards. Several defensive players who are on the bubble in terms of making the team stood out. Linebacker Jason Trusnik recovered a fumble to set up Hardesty's touchdown run in the first quarter. Linebacker Kaluka Maiava and defensive lineman Brian Sanford had a sack apiece. Linebacker David Bowens and defensive lineman Brian Schaefering each finished with 1/2 of a sack when they combined to bring down Bears quarterback Todd Collins, who started the game while Chicago's top quarterback, Jay Cutler, took the night off, in the backfield. Linebacker Marcus Benard, who already had a roster spot virtually secured heading into Thursday night's game, played like a man auditioning for a job. He led the Browns with eight tackles. Rookie safety Larry Asante, meanwhile, compiled six tackles, and linebacker David Veikune had five, including four in the first quarter. The big question at the end of the night, though, was about Hardesty's status and it remained unanswered. The Browns really hope it's nothing serious because he looked stellar in his debut. Of course, it's easy to second guess the Browns' decision to play him tonight, but they wanted to see what he could do. "I sat down with [Browns President Mike Holmgren] and talked about it," Browns coach Eric Mangini said of deciding to play Hardesty. "It's a tough decision. You want to be able to see a guy, you want to make sure that he's prepared to play in the [regular-season] opener and do things that he needs to do. You're also concerned about the volume of work he's been able to have up to that point. As we talked about it, we decided that this was going to be his last opportunity to get that work, so we thought it was the best idea to do that."
- End 1Q: Browns 7, Bears 7 -- 1. Bears quarterback Todd Collins hit tight end Greg Olsen with a 15-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point kick was good, and Chicago took a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the opening quarter. The Bears' drive started at Cleveland's 19-yard line after Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy fumbled a snap from center Shawn Lauvao on Cleveland's first offensive play from scrimmage. 2. The Bears returned the favor later in the first quarter when a Collins couldn't handle a shotgun snap because he wasn't looking when it came his way. Browns linebacker Jason Trusnik recovered the fumble at the Bears' 13-yard line. Browns rookie running back Montario Hardesty then took over with three runs, including a 1-yard touchdown burst up the middle. Kicker Phil Dawson made the PAT, and the Browns tied the score 7-7 with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
- End 2Q: Browns 10, Bears 10 -- 1. Dawson capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal, giving Cleveland a 10-7 lead with 3:29 left in the second quarter. The bad news for the Browns? Hardesty was injured during the drive. He left the game with a left knee injury, and his return was listed as questionable. 2. The Bears tied the score 10-10 when kicker Robbie Gould made a 46-yard field goal with 1:08 left before halftime.
- End 3Q: Browns 10, Bears 10 -- No scoring.
- End 4Q: Browns 13, Bears 10 -- 1. Dawson hit a 36-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Browns to victory.
Top storylines: 1. Browns rookie running back Montario Hardesty is expected to make his NFL debut tonight. Hardesty missed most of August after he sustained a bone bruise to his right knee shortly before the Browns' first full-squad practice of training camp began July 31. The Browns are hoping Hardesty can stay healthy and contribute. After all, they traded up to draft him in the second round (59nd overall) of this year's draft. 2. Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy will start and receive by far the most playing time of his short professional career. Browns coach Eric Mangini said McCoy and fellow backup quarterback Brett Ratliff will each play two quarters. 3. Remember to keep an eye on players who are fighting to survive the upcoming roster cuts. Mangini said good and bad performances by those players tonight could become deciding factors when cuts are made. Pay attention to running backs James Davis and Chris Jennings. They'll be trying to make big plays, especially on special teams.
Sidelined players: Browns -- DB Nick Sorensen, LB D'Qwell Jackson, DL C.J. Mosley, OL Floyd Womack, OL John St. Clair (out for personal reasons), TE Robert Royal and DL Shaun Rogers. Bears -- QB Jay Cutler, QB Caleb Hanie, S Craig Steltz, S Major Wright, LB Nick Roach, LB Brian Urlacher, LB Lance Briggs, C Olin Kreutz, WR Earl Bennett and LB Hunter Hillenmeyer.
Lineup changes: Browns -- Colt McCoy will start at quarterback in place of Jake Delhomme. Bears -- Israel Idonje will start at left defensive end; Brian Iwuh will start at outside linebacker for Lance Briggs; Kevin Malast will start at middle linebacker in place of Brian Urlacher; Pisa Tinoisamoa will start at outside linebacker; Josh Beekman will start at center in place of Olin Kreutz; Todd Collins will start at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler.
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