The Browns played just 36 players in Thursday's preseason finale at Chicago. And though the 24-0 result wasn't what Cleveland wanted, the purpose behind playing so few players played out exactly as Mike Pettine hoped.
"Best news is that we came out of it healthy, just a few minor dings here and there," Pettine said. "I thought we did some good things. A couple of guys stepped up. You're likely to have a result like that when you sit down as many guys as we did but I think for the most part our guys battled."
Here were the five we saw step up in a big way.
LB Hayes Pullard Jr.
The seventh-round pick started and received his most extensive work of the preseason. He had three tackles, one of which went for a loss, and was constantly around the ball. Pullard smiled and shook his head in the locker room when he was asked about his near pick-6. He promised he'd spend more time on the JUGS machine at practice.
WR Josh Lenz
The unheralded receiver capped off his productive preseason with his best game as a Brown. He made all four of his catches in the first half and led the way with 49 yards. He tried to set the tone early as a starter and showed good chemistry with quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. Lenz also played a little safety because of the Browns' number crunch on defense. Lenz has been through the waiting game before, and there's no telling whether or not he'll make the final 53, but he said he looks back on his August and early September with "no regrets."
DB Ibraheim Campbell
No one played more snaps in the preseason than Campbell, who started alongside Jordan Poyer and continued to show how productive he can be as a thumper out of the defensive backfield. Campbell led the Browns with seven tackles Thursday and finished as the preseason leader with 20. The fourth-round pick out of Northwestern made the most of his extended duty and showed he can be counted on when the season starts.
DE Billy Winn
The fourth-year defensive lineman was all over the field and provided constant disruption throughout Thursday's first half. Winn faced some adversity early in training camp when he went down with a knee/ankle injury but he bounced back and gave his best effort to show he belongs on the 53-man roster. Winn was frank about his uncertain status after the game, but, like Lenz, he can take solace in the fact he put his best foot forward in his final audition.
LB Tank Carder
This was the most the Browns have seen from Carder at linebacker in the preseason as Karlos Dansby, Craig Robertson and Christian Kirksey all rested Thursday. Coaches have raved about Carder and said they want to get him more involved in the defense, and his performance Thursday showed why. He finished second on the team with five tackles and showed good command in the center of the defense.