In years past, the final preseason game was an opportunity for players that were on the bubble of making the 53 man roster to receive the entirety of the snaps on both offense and defense. This season however, teams only have three preseason contests to work with in order to figure out their final roster heading into the regular season. While no formal announcement has been made in terms of Cleveland’s plans for playing time in Atlanta on Sunday, expect Kevin Stefanski to play it safe by utilizing this game as he would a normal fourth preseason in years past. Avoiding injury to any key pieces during non practice time situations has been an emphasis during the preseason, as very few of the starters have seen time.
Cleveland comes into the preseason finale with a record of 2-0 with victories over the Jaguars and Giants. The Browns have looked efficient on both sides of the ball, with young players stepping up and flourishing under Kevin Stefanski and Joe Wood’s system. Atlanta’s preseason on the other hand has been rather noteworthy for unfortunate reasons. Former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is in his first season as head coach, and his team has suffered two blowout losses at the hands of Tennessee and Miami. While these results are meaningless in the grand scheme of things, they lost their backup quarterback AJ McCarron for the year to a knee injury in the second preseason game. This forced them to sign free agent Josh Rosen to compete with Feleipe Franks for the backup job. Matt Ryan has not played in the preseason yet, as has wideout Calvin Ridley.
The Browns will most likely use this opportunity to make a final evaluation of players that are on the bubble of making the final 53 man roster. Some of these players include quarterback Kyle Lauletta, defensive tackle Malik McDowell, linebackers Elijah Lee and Mack Wilson, fullback Johnny Stanon, and wide receivers Khadarel Hodge and Davion Davis. Despite Cleveland not being forced to count on any of these players for major contributions come Week One in Kansas City, having a group of reservers who can stay ready when called upon is a vital aspect of roster building in the NFL. Andrew Berry and company will have some late nights leading up to deadline day figuring out who would be best suited for the Cleveland Browns moving forward.