The 2012 Cleveland Browns get the preseason underway with Friday night’s annual renewal of the Great Lakes Classic with the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
The Browns and Lions have met in each of the last 10 preseasons and both teams own five wins over the other. Cleveland holds a 4-2 mark in home games, but is just 1-3 on the road during that stretch. Detroit leads the all-time preseason series against the Browns with its 24-18-1 record.
The Browns suffered a 30-28 loss to the Lions last August in Cleveland Browns Stadium, due in large part to Detroit’s 17 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed six of 10 passes for 85 yards and one touchdown, but when he was done with his work for the day, backup signal-caller Drew Stanton completed six of eight throws for 80 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
Stanton engineered Detroit’s first second-half scoring drive with a seven-yard pass to wide receiver Maurice Stovall. Stanton followed it up with a 20-yard touchdown pass to now-former Lions tight end J.J. Finley on a drive that was set up by a fumble from Browns running back Armond Smith. Smith had gained five yards on a run around left tackle before his fumble was recovered by now-Buffalo defensive back Prince Miller.
As the game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:
Weeden restarted his football career at Oklahoma State University after spending five years in the minor leagues for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals baseball organizations. During his time with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Weeden completed 767 of 1,103 attempts for 9,260 yards.
Weeden completed 409 of 565 attempts for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns during his final season at Oklahoma State.
McCoy. He was the Browns’ starting quarterback for the first 13 games last season until a concussion sidelined him for the team’s games at Arizona and Baltimore, as well as at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. McCoy completed 265 of 463 attempts for 2,733 yards and 14 touchdowns against 11 interceptions last year.
McCoy’s touchdown total was up from the six he threw during his eight starts as a rookie in 2010. He also cut the interceptions from four percent of his throws to 2.3 percent during his second NFL season.
Despite sharing carries with a Heisman Trophy winner in Mark Ingram during his first two years at Alabama, Richardson was still able to run for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns as a collegian.
In his NFL career, Hardesty has rushed for 266 yards on 88 attempts and caught 14 passes for 122 yards. Hardesty made four starts in his 10 games last fall.
Much of Gordon’s production came in his sophomore season, when he caught 42 passes for 714 yards and a team-best seven touchdowns. He ranked second on the team in total yardage and finished with a 17.0 yards-per-reception average.
Hagg spent much of the early part of this year’s training camp working with the Browns’ first-team defense with fellow safety T.J. Ward.
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson caught 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns and helped lead the Lions into the postseason for the first time since the team lost at the Washington Redskins, 27-13, on Jan. 8, 2000.
Lions defensive end Cliff Avril. Last season was the first time in his four-year NFL career that Avril was able to start all 16 games for the Lions. His ability to get and stay on the field resulted in a career high 11 quarterback sacks. He also registered the first interception of his career -- which he returned for a four-yard touchdown -- and finished second in the league with six forced fumbles.
Avril has registered 133 total tackles and 30 sacks in his NFL career.
Detroit defensive back Chris Houston. Houston started 13 of the 14 games which he played in last fall. After spending the first three seasons of his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, Houston had a career year with five interceptions. He returned two of those for touchdowns, including a long return of 100 yards.
Houston defended 26 passes and intercepted six others during his two seasons in Detroit.
The Browns continue their preseason schedule next Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers at famed Lambeau Field. The Lions hit the road for the first time in the 2012 preseason when they match up against a Browns AFC North Division rival in the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium next Friday.
Browns general manager Tom Heckert is a native of Adrian, Mich., and graduated from Hillsdale College.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur is a native of Dearborn Heights, Mich., and played college football at Michigan State University. He was a graduate assistant at Michigan State from 1988-89 and later served as the tight ends, special teams and offensive line coach from 1990-97.
Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron played and coached for the Lions. He was a Lions defensive back from 1973-77 and their defensive coordinator in 2004 and 2005. He also took over as the interim head coach during the 2005 season.
Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor coached the Western Michigan University special teams and running backs from 2006-07. Defensive assistant Chuck Bullough is a native of East Lansing and went to Michigan State. He served as Michigan State’s assistant defensive backs coach (1997) and assistant offensive line coach (1998), and later, the linebackers coach (2005) at Western Michigan. Linebackers coach Bill Davis was a Michigan State graduate assistant from 1990-91.
Browns defensive end
Cleveland tight end
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz began his career with the Browns in 1995 as a college/pro scout.
Lions guard Rob Sims (Macedonia/Nordonia High School/Ohio State) and center Dan Gerberry (Austintown/Fitch High School) are Ohio natives.
Former Browns defensive lineman Corey Williams (2008-09), defensive back Don Carey (2009) and safety Sean Jones (2005-08) now play for the Lions. Carey (2009) and Jones (2005) were drafted by the Browns.
Fans can watch Friday's game at 7:30pm ET on local CBS affiliate WOIO-TV 19. Jim Donovan, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and sideline reporter Mark Schwab will be on the call.
The game is also available along the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network with Mike Snyder, Doug Dieken, and Jamir Howerton on the call. All radio broadcasts will be streamed live at ClevelandBrowns.com.
What to Watch For is brought to you by Arby’s -- Arby’s Value Menu starting at one dollar will have you coming back for more without emptying your wallet.