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Browns finish preseason on positive note

Posted Aug 29, 2013

CHICAGO -- With one final game to evaluate the 75 players on the roster, coach Rob Chudzinski looked on as the team engineered an 18-16, come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears.

CHICAGO -- The Cleveland Browns’ second- and third-team players overcame a double-digit, second-half deficit and earned an 18-16, come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears in the preseason finale at Soldier Field Thursday.

And that is exactly what coach Rob Chudzinski wanted, both in the result and evaluation of some of the team’s youngest players.

With the come-from-behind victory over the Bears, the Browns finished the preseason with a 3-1 record.

“Tonight was a good opportunity for us to be able to get a chance to see a lot of guys play that haven’t played a lot during the preseason,” Chudzinski said. “I’m pleased with the result of the game and pleased with what they did with the opportunity.

“We got behind there, had some adversity, didn’t play great, early on especially, but the guys kept battling. That really says a lot about them. I was pleased with the preseason. I think we’ve come a long way. Obviously, we have a long ways to go, but we’ve built a foundation that will hopefully carry us throughout the season. We’ll embrace all of the challenges. We’re excited about the challenges that lay ahead of us.”

With the offense struggling, the Browns got a lift from their defense in the third quarter.

Cleveland linebacker James-Michael Johnson intercepted Bears quarterback Trent Edwards on a tipped pass off the hands of tight end Fendi Onobun and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. Johnson’s interception-turned-touchdown cut the Bears’ lead to 13-9 with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter.

“Some of the positives (were) being on the road, being able to win a game on the road with these guys coming back and battling from behind,” Chudzinski said. “I thought we had a couple big plays on defense, the JMJ touchdown return that sort of ignited us, and then, the fumble that we forced, recovered and were able to get points from.”

From an evaluation standpoint, the Browns got their first look at wide receiver David Nelson in game action. The fourth-year veteran missed the first three preseason games while rehabbing from a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and battling through a bone bruise, but came up with a team-high four receptions for 54 yards Thursday.

“I thought it was great that he got back out there,” Chudzinski said. “I know there’s a few plays that he’d like to have back and playing in an NFL game, you get tired, and he was tired there by the end. Those guys got a lot of reps. He made a couple plays and those are the kinds of experiences you can build on.”

Before the game, kicker Shayne Graham experienced tightness in his back and was scratched from the start. In his place, punter Spencer Lanning was called upon to kick.

After missing his first field-goal attempt, a 41-yarder, wide left, Lanning converted the next opportunities, first, a 32-yarder as the first half expired, and then, a game-winning 40-yard boot with 3:15 left in regulation.

Lanning also handled some of the punting duties, with an average net of 50.0 yards over his two kicks.

“Spencer Lanning, you’ve got to give it to him,” Chudzinski said with a smile. “It was a heck of a job coming in. I told him after he made that kick, ‘You just never know what you’re going to have to do when you come to work every day.’ He responded really well.

“I was a little concerned after the first one, but then, he hit the second one and I just had a feeling he was going to make that last one there. He did a really nice job. Doing what he did tonight speaks a lot.”

MAKING AN IMPACT

Browns outside linebacker Quentin Groves was one of five regular starters who played against the Bears, and the veteran did not disappoint. He finished with two solo tackles, including a sack for a nine-yard loss, one quarterback hit and a tackle for lost yardage.

“He’s been great all along,” Chudzinski said. “From the day that we started, he’s shown a lot of leadership. The team responds an awful lot to Quentin, the energy that he brings on a daily basis. He gives us good play at the outside backer position with the pass rush. He just loves playing football. We wanted to give him some snaps.”

GORDON FLASHES IN FINALE

Due to a league-mandated suspension, wide receiver Josh Gordon will not be eligible to play in the regular season until Week Three against the Minnesota Vikings, and he got extended work in the fourth game against the Bears. He caught two passes for a game-best 77 yards, including a 45-yarder from quarterback Brian Hoyer on the game’s first play from scrimmage.

“He had a good performance,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll go back and evaluate the tape. Josh can come to the facility over the course of the next two weeks. He can be in meetings, and he can work out. He can work out in the weight room, run and get treatment. He can be around.”

Click here for the photo gallery from the Browns' 18-16 win over the Chicago Bears.

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