The position group that coach Freddie Kitchens expects to become the strength of the Browns has yet to debut its full complement of starting players this preseason because minor injuries have interfered.
The wait could end, though, when the Browns face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third exhibition game for both teams at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Raymond James Stadium.
Myles Garrett sat out last weekend's preseason game No. 2, the Browns' 21-18 win over the host Indianapolis Colts, but fellow starting defensive linemen Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi played. In the exhibition opener, the Browns' 30-10 win over visiting Washington on Aug. 8, Garrett and Ogunjobi played, but Vernon and Richardson didn't.
Now Browns defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi is bragging like your friend who has binge-watched a buzzworthy TV series before you've joined the fun.
"I get to see it every day," Lupoi said Wednesday of his starting four, "so it's like going to a theme park."
Reminded no one has seen the four starters together in a preseason game, Lupoi said, "You should tune in. I think we've got a game here pretty soon."
On Wednesday, Kitchens said Browns starters will play "some" in Tampa, though he didn't disclose how long they'll be in action.
Garrett missed Tuesday's practice with an illness but returned Wednesday and participated in team drills, albeit in a session featuring a jog-through pace. As long as Garrett is feeling good enough to play, the defense's primary front four should be intact against the Bucs.
Kitchens has said his starters won't appear in the Aug. 29 preseason finale at home against the Detroit Lions, so the trip to Tampa represents the No. 1 D-line's last chance to tune up against an opponent in the buildup to the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium.
It's not just fans and media who are eager to get a load of Garrett, Vernon, Richardson and Ogunjobi on the field together in a game. Consider how excited members of the Browns secondary are about the D-line.
"It's going to make our jobs easy, man," cornerback Terrance Mitchell told the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com on Monday. "With those guys rushing the quarterback, it's going to get us paid."
"They're getting to that quarterback quick," Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward said Tuesday. "We help each other out — the secondary and D-line. So I definitely love those guys up there."
Although Vernon and Richardson each has a Pro Bowl on his resume, Garrett is the headliner of the group. As a second-year pro last season, Garrett made the Pro Bowl and finished seventh in the NFL with 13.5 sacks. Now the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft has set his sights on the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
"We're setting expectations and setting the bar really high," Lupoi said. "I think that's exactly what he wants, so I'm going to demand a lot out of him. I really feel he has all the tools and capabilities to be special. We'll continue pushing him."
Offensive line coach James Campen said Tuesday he's 100% confident the Browns have their starting right guard on the roster. They just need to decide who it'll be, and a verdict could be reached following the Tampa experience.
"We're going to go through the process in the third preseason [game]," Campen said. "Then you take a look at that tape and make some assessments there and hopefully it's very apparent who that person is."
Eric Kush is in the driver's seat. He has taken the vast majority of first-team right guard reps for a couple of weeks, though rookie sixth-round draft pick Drew Forbes and Kendall Lamm have received some work in the role as of late.
What does Campen want to see from Kush in Tampa to give the longtime O-line coach the clear answer he's seeking?
"Just be consistent," Campen said. "Be consistent with the two adjacent linemen is the more important thing. Come out and be real confident, shoot you guns and go full speed at it."
Ward is expected to make his preseason debut after the cornerback sat out the past two games with a minor leg injury.
All signs point to superstar Odell Beckham Jr. remaining idle with a minor hip injury, but at least one other member of the receiving corps will enter preseason action: Damion Ratley, a 2018 sixth-round pick who's fighting for a roster spot after missing the past two games and most of camp with a hamstring injury.
It's unclear whether four-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry will play. He's been participating in team drills on a limited basis.
Braxton Miller, the former Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver, signed with the Browns on Wednesday and said he hopes to play Friday. He faces an uphill battle to make the team.
Tight end Seth DeValve missed the past two games and most of camp with a concussion. He returned to practice Monday and finds himself on the roster bubble.
Is it too late for incumbent Greg Joseph and rookie fifth-round selection Austin Seibert to salvage a bid for the kicking job?
It's an understatement to say both of them struggled throughout camp, so one can't avoid the feeling that neither is the answer for the regular season.
There is no indication either Joseph or Seibert will catch fire and alleviate enough concerns to win the job, but Seibert's draft status gives rise to the question, "What if?"
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.