Josh Gordon #86 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 16, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Photographer: (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND - The Browns will close out the 2012 preseason at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Thursday night against the Chicago Bears .
Head coach Pat Shurmur announced earlier this week that he will sit rookie starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, and start Colt McCoy, who is in a battle for the backup spot with veteran Seneca Wallace.
Thursday's contest marks the ninth consecutive year the two teams have met in the preseason finale. In that time, the teams have split the series, with each winning four games.
Both teams come into Thursday's game winning two of the three preseason games this year.
What to watch for:
Quarterbacks: With Brandon Weeden taking a seat for this final preseason game to rest for next week's opener, Colt McCoy, who has a solid preseason, will get another chance to impress the coaching staff to keep him over Seneca Wallace. McCoy, this preseason, has completed 18 of 24 passes for 234 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for an impressive quarterback rating of 119.1.
Wide Receivers: How many wide receivers will Pat Shurmur keep? Carlton Mitchell was cut earlier in the week, while rookies Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon continue to develop, and will be called upon this season. Throw in Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi, and the Browns receiving corps may be complete. However, without Weeden is there this week, timing will be the biggest concern.
Running Backs: This has been an interesting battle, but Shurmur will not keep all four, so someone will have to go. Montario Hardesty looks to be safe, which leaves Brandon Jackson, Chris Ogbonnaya and Adonis Thomas to battle for the final two spots. Thomas could end up making the 53-man roster as a kick returner on special teams, but he has also been impressive on offense, rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown. Ogbonnaya may be the odd man out. Keep a close eye as to the rotation on Thursday night.
Defense: The Browns young defensive players have gotten plenty of chances to shine due to injuries. Billy Winn and John Hughes have been solid in place of an injured Phil Taylor and Atyba Rubin, who missed some time in camp as well. Taylor is expected back by the fourth or fifth week of the season and continues to be on track for that timetable.
Linebackers: They have gotten a lot of attention in camp this year, with the possible suspension of veteran starter Scott Fujita looming and the loss of starter Chris Gocong for the year. Younger players, like fourth round rookie linebacker James Michael Johnson, have seen more playing time and made the most of it. Undrafted linebacker A.J. Fort is pushing to make the 53-man roster. Fort is second on the team in tackles and has caught the coaches eye with his hard work throughout camp.
Defensive Backs: The starters are a lock. Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown, Eric Haag and T.J Ward are in. The battle behind them continues. Buster Skrine will back up Joe Haden and Dimitri Patterson, who could start the year on injured reserve, will backup Sheldon Brown. But the player to watch Thursday night is David Sims. Sims, who could replace Usama Young as the backup strong safety, is second on the team in tackles and leads the team in interceptions. His development and Young's injuries could mean the end of his stay here in Cleveland.
Thursday's game will not be fun to watch since most starters won't play much at all, but if you watch the game like I will, looking to see what backups get the most reps and who comes out in the first series on both sides of the ball, you might have an idea who will make the 53-man roster when it comes out on Friday night.
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Browns second week of organized team activities, or OTAs, came to an end with a two-hour practice for head coach Rob Chudzinski.
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is fighting for the number one job in Berea. But his thoughts and prayers this week have been for his friends and family fighting through the wreckage left by the deadly tornadoes that hit Oklahoma this week.