GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Cleveland Browns continue their preparations for the 2012 regular season with tonight’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at famed Lambeau Field.
The Browns are 13-10-0 all-time against the Packers in the preseason and 7-4-0 in road games during the series, including 2010’s 27-24, come-from-behind win in the exhibition opener for both teams.
Cleveland is looking to continue its winning ways in the preseason, as it is coming off of a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field last Friday night. The Packers, conversely, are looking to get into the win column for the first time this preseason after a loss at the San Diego Chargers last week.
“This game is just one more stepping block to get ready for the season,” said third-year Browns safety T.J. Ward. “I don’t think we’re looking forward to preparing for one, specific team, but it’s just getting ourselves better as a team and as individuals.”
Individually, the Browns have allowed several young players to gain experience with the first teams on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
While the first-year skill position players went through their paces, so did rookie right tackle
When most of the first-team players left the game against the Lions after the first quarter, Schwartz stayed in for the remainder of the half.
“He’s a very detailed guy; he’s very precise,” second-year Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Schwartz. “I think that’s what makes him technically sound at what he does. What he encountered the other night was a pretty good pass rush and I saw him working through it as he played the game. He’s a very fine player and I think he’ll continue to improve throughout the preseason.”
Schwartz has continued to prepare for what he will see during the preseason and in the regular season by competing against second-year Browns defensive end
Sheard is coming off his 8.5-sack rookie season in 2011. Last fall, he had the second-most sacks of any Browns rookie in team history.
“He’s going to be pretty good,” Sheard said of Schwartz. “The first game, he was a little bit nervous, of course, but he’s been working to get better in practice; he’s been looking better at practice. I’m looking to get him better. We battle a lot. Often, he gets me and sometimes, I get him.
“I try to watch film and I’ve seen what’s going on in the game and that’s the look I’ve been trying to give him. The last game, they went more of a nine-wide and we don’t play like that, so it’s kind of difficult to get a feel for that at practice, but I’ve been trying to work with him. He’s been getting me better and I’ve been getting him better. I just try and tell him what I’m thinking when I do certain things like if I get wide, I’m trying to make you kick so I can go inside, small stuff like that where I’m trying to set you up so I can make my move.”
In addition to helping Schwartz improve his game in practice, Sheard has recommitted himself to stopping the run. Last season, the Browns surrendered an average of 147.4 rush yards-per-game, which ranked 30th in the National Football League.
The Browns will get a test against the Packers, who averaged just under 100 rush yards-per-game last season. Green Bay averaged 3.9 yards over 395 carries and registered 12 rushing touchdowns in 2011.
“We’ve got to play better team defense,” Shurmur said. “I’ve been saying it all along, you want to stop the run more, so at the end of the day, you look at the statistics and the run numbers are not where they’re at. I think it’s important on defense that you prevent the score.”