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Browns QB Thad Lewis knows big opportunity awaits vs. Tampa Bay

Thaddeus Lewis doesn't see Saturday's preseason game against Tampa Bay any differently than the previous two.

In the veteran quarterback's eyes, his job remains the same. The only difference is he's one step closer to the top of the depth chart.

Lewis likely will serve as the Browns' second and final quarterback against the Buccaneers. Johnny Manziel is expected to be sidelined because of a sore elbow, and Connor Shaw remains out indefinitely with an injured thumb, leaving Lewis and starter Josh McCown as the two healthy options behind center for Cleveland's most important game before the regular season.

"It's a great opportunity," Lewis said. "You have to go out there and show that you're capable of stepping in and the offense not losing a beat as if Josh or Johnny was in there. Josh is the starter and you put another guy in, can he continue to do the job that a starter would do, and that's the opportunity I would have Saturday, and that's what I look forward to doing."

Lewis, who signed with the Browns in March, didn't play in last week's game against Buffalo and was 2-of-4 for 15 yards and an interception in the preseason opener against Washington. His last appearance in a regulation game was 2013, when he started five games for the Bills.

Browns coach Mike Pettine had a front-row seat as Buffalo's defensive coordinator.

"Thad's a professional," Pettine said. "He's great in the meeting room. I was with him in Buffalo, won some games for us then. I know he's a competitor. He's tough. He'll thrive in pressure situations. We're comfortable with where Thad is and because of – it's an advantage to him – because of Connor first of all and now Johnny -- he's going to get the chance to get some quality reps.

"We'll have a good sense where Thad is coming out of these next two weeks, this next week, really."

Unexpected opportunities have sprung up in the past for Lewis, who entered the NFL in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of Duke but didn't see the field until the last game of 2012. After 11 weeks on the Browns practice squad, Lewis was promoted to the active roster for Week 17 and finished 22-of-33 for 204 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers.

In his six games with the Bills, Lewis completed close to 60 percent of his passes for 1,092 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He spent the final five weeks of 2014 with the Houston Texans but did not play.

"You definitely have an opportunity anywhere you are," Lewis said. "You never know what the situation will be; you always have to be ready. Just take advantage of your opportunities. If you take advantage of your opportunities, you definitely have a shot to make any 53-man roster."

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