It was a shell of what the game will look like come Week 1, but don’t let the low score fool you. The Lions’ first preseason game against the Browns brought a lot of position battles, player analyses, and coaching strategies into the spotlight.
Detroit ultimately pulled off a 1-point victory off of a late hook-up between Kellen Moore and Corey Fuller on a 21-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes to go. Up until then, scoring came by means of field-goal. Nate Freese went two-for-two on the night, making a plea for his case to be the Lions’ placekicker.
Matthew Stafford was only in for one drive, going 2 for 4 for 18 yards — that’s without Calvin Johnson who sat out. There wasn’t enough playtime for Stafford to determine whether the new quarterback-friendly coaching staff has made a large impact on him or not. First round pick Eric Ebron was in on a few of those snaps with the first-string offense, but wound up with only one catch on the night from Dan Orlovsky. He will be interjected into the offense a little more as the preseason goes on.
The Detroit running core, which was led by hometown-rookie George Winn, looked fairly strong all night long. Minus a couple of mishaps, there was a lot of good that came out of the backfield. Both Winn and youngster Steven Miller made statements in different ways; Winn in the run game, and Miller in the pass and return games.
The D-Line showed great depth, making quite a few plays behind the line of scrimmage and manhandling Cleveland’s offensive line. George Johnson, and draft-picks Caraun Reid and Larry Webster, all had very strong outings as they fight for a spot on the already-potent defensive line. As for the secondary, Isa Abdul-Quddus had six tackles including one for a loss, leaving his mark on the game. Fourth-round pick Nevin Lawson came away with five tackles, but struggled just as much in his play-time. It will be interesting to see if the secondary can come together as the regular season draws near.
The story for Cleveland was of Johnny Manziel’s NFL preseason debut, which was mediocre at best. He ends up going 7 of 11 for 63-yards, and 6 rushes for 27-yards. Starter Brian Hoyer looked much more solid throwing 6 of 14 for 92-yards, and had better cadence with the offense, but also got to work with the first-team offense which Johnny Football did not.
The Lions head to Oakland on Friday for their second preseason match-up. Kickoff is at 10PM.