Below is my list of the top 10 Browns players to watch tonight, when they host the Chicago Bears in the fourth and final preseason game of the year for both teams.
Note: Players who were featured on my previous three lists were not eligible for this version. They are identified at the bottom.
1. Quarterback Seneca Wallace (No. 6): Will this be his last appearance in a Browns uniform? If the team doesn’t trade Colt McCoy, Wallace could be the odd man out when the roster is cut to 53 players Friday. If the Browns keep Thaddeus Lewis as their No. 3 quarterback — coach Pat Shurmur said Lewis is “worth developing” — there won’t be enough room for Wallace and McCoy behind starter Brandon Weeden. Shurmur said McCoy will start tonight and Weeden will rest. Wallace and Lewis will play, too.
2. Strong safety Usama Young (No. 28): He returned to practice Sunday after missing most of training camp with an injured quadriceps, so he might not even play tonight. Either way, he’s seemingly on the roster bubble and worth keeping an eye on. There might not be enough room for both him and strong safety David Sims, who has had a great preseason.
3. Rookie fullback Brad Smelley (No. 47): Shurmur said there’s a possibility that starting fullback Owen Marecic and Smelley could make the roster because the versatile Smelley could be counted as a tight end. Still, Smelley seems like a long shot who’s headed for the practice squad. But if Smelley, a seventh-round draft pick, can pull off an upset, tight end Evan Moore could be in jeopardy.
4. Defensive end Brian Sanford (No. 70): During camp, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron went out of his way to say, “I anticipate [Sanford is] gonna make a run at making this football team.” Tonight is his final audition before the second round of cuts.
5. Defensive tackle Kiante Tripp (No. 67): He’s among a group of young players trying to nab the final roster spot for defensive linemen.
6. Undrafted rookie defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron (No. 65): Awarded to the Browns off waivers from the Chicago Bears on Aug. 14, he’s in the same boat as Sanford and Tripp.
7. Cornerback James Dockery (No. 31): If the Browns keep six cornerbacks, Dockery would make the team. If they keep only five, he’ll be cut. The question is, will the possibility of Joe Haden receiving a suspension for a reported failed drug test help Dockery’s cause?
8. Offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw (No. 74): Listed on the depth chart as the backup left guard, he’s in a tight race for the eighth and likely final roster spot for offensive linemen. Backup tackle Oniel Cousins has an injured right leg, and the injury could create an opportunity for someone else.
9. Offensive lineman Dominic Alford (No. 78): The backup right guard, he’s another young player hoping to capitalize if Cousins gets cut.
10. Weakside linebacker Quinton Spears (No. 90): Can he sneak onto the roster as a special-teams contributor?
Top 10 heading into third preseason game: 1. Haden (No. 23); 2. Lewis (No. 9); 3. Defensive end Frostee Rucker (No. 92); 4. Wide receiver Greg Little (No. 15); 5. Sims (No. 36); 6. Weakside linebacker Craig Robertson (No. 47); 7. Wide receiver Jordan Norwood (No. 10); 8. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Josh Cooper (No. 88); 9. Wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (waived on Sunday); and 10. Right guard Shawn Lauvao (No. 66).
Top 10 heading into second preseason game: 1. Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (No. 11); 2. McCoy (No. 12); 3. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (No. 71); 4. Rookie cornerback Trevin Wade (No. 26); 5. Cornerback Buster Skrine (No. 22); 6. Undrafted rookie middle linebacker L.J. Fort (No. 40); 7. Defensive end Emmanuel Stephens (No. 96); 8. Moore (No. 89); 9. Free safety Eric Hagg (No. 27); and 10. Rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn (No. 79)
Top 10 heading into preseason opener: 1. Weeden (No. 3); 2. Running back Montario Hardesty (No. 20); 3. Rookie defensive tackle John Hughes (No. 93); 4. Rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (No. 72); 5. Rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon (No. 86); 6. Rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson (No. 50); 7. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (No. 21); 8. Weakside linebacker Kaluka Maiava (No. 56); 9. Tight end Jordan Cameron (No. 84); and 10. Rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin (No. 80).
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.