Hue Jackson wants the best possible version of the Browns ready for Pittsburgh.
That's why the Browns coach is opting to rest the vast majority of Cleveland's starters for Thursday's preseason finale at Detroit.
"I do not want to take a chance," Jackson said after Monday's practice. "The best team that we are going to have for the 2018 season is going to be the team that we will trot out against Pittsburgh. I think that I have got to keep them healthy and get them ready to go. I think that I have seen enough in practice and in watching a lot of the tape. There are some things that we need to get better at. There are some things that we have to improve on. I think we can do those things in practice and get better at them."
There are, however, a couple of exceptions.
Right guard Kevin Zeitler, who hasn't played in the preseason, could see some action against the Lions. The veteran offensive lineman returned to practice Saturday after missing multiple weeks with a calf injury.
"I need as many reps as I can get, so whatever he thinks," Zeitler said Sunday. "I have played a lot of football over my career so we will see what he says when it gets here."
Rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who started the team's first two preseason games but missed last week's with a groin injury, is also expected to play. Callaway returned to practice Saturday.
"He needs to get back to where he was," Jackson said. "When you are out a little bit, you have to push yourself through. You have to get back."
With veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor sitting out Thursday's game, rookie Baker Mayfield will play "quite a bit," Jackson said.
Looking ahead to the opener, Jackson said he feels good about defensive lineman Trevon Coley, who has missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury, but was less optimistic about fullback Danny Vitale, who has been out with a calf injury.