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Burning Questions

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Burning Questions for 2nd preseason game vs. Commanders

The biggest questions the Browns face as they head into their second preseason game against the Commanders

Commanders Burning Q's

The Browns will play their first home game and have a chance at their second-straight preseason win when they face off against the Washington Commanders on Friday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Here are the four burning questions ahead of a game that should feature at least one series of starters in action:

1. What to expect from Deshaun Watson?

QB Deshaun Watson is expected to start the game and could play 1-2 series. The Browns aren't looking for anything flashy from Watson, but rather just a clean operation of the offense and some sequences that end in points.

"It doesn't matter how long I play," Watson said. "I'm a competitor. However long (head coach Kevin Stefanski) wants me to play, I will go out there and compete for the length of time and see what happens from there."

Watson has looked sharp through the first three weeks of training camp practices, but the game reps will be crucial toward assessing how he and the rest of the offense stand for the regular season.

"You just got to get that routine again," he said. "You just got to start fresh, get back to the basics of how you get yourself prepared for the game. Mentally, physically, and just really just operational for the team so we can go out there and be sharp."

2. How does DTR follow a stellar debut?

After Watson exits, Dorian Thompson-Robinson will have a chance to step in at some point and build off a quality debut last week in the Hall of Fame Game.

Thompson-Robinson went 8-for-11 for 82 yards and one touchdown in the game, and he also rushed six times for 36 yards. He led the Browns on a 93-yard drive that ended with him throwing a block to spring Demetric Felton into the endzone on a 16-yard run and also completed a 22-yard pass to WR Austin Watkins in the fourth quarter to give the Browns the lead.

The Commanders have done a thorough review of Thompson-Robinson's tape and will have a plan of attack, and the next step for Thompson-Robinson is to continue to adjust and play smoothly in front of a different defense.

3. Can the defense bring more pressure?

The announcement of which starters are playing Friday is still pending, but the Browns appear likely to deploy most of their defense starters for a series or two. That creates a great opportunity to see if the Browns can generate more pressure to the pocket.

The Browns recorded one sacks against the Jets in Canton, but with starters set to play a couple series, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz would love to at least see the defensive line disrupt the QB on passing plays — the top objective of his defensive schemes.The defensive line is revamped to do so this season with the additions of DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE Za'Darius Smith, and DT Shelby Harris, who signed with the Browns on Thursday.

4. Which backup RBs step up in Ford's absence?

Due to an injury suffered by backup RB Jerome Ford, John Kelly Jr., Demetric Felton Jr. and Hassan Hall are all set to split snaps in his absence. Nick Chubb is anticipated to play on Friday, but the rest of the rushing workload will fall on the backup trio.

The opportunity is valuable for all three backs, who are likely vying for some of the final spots on the 53-man roster. A big preseason performance could go a long way toward elevating their odds of cracking a role beyond training camp.

Last week, Felton led Browns rushers with seven carries for 46 yards and one touchdown. Kelly totaled 10 rushes for 42 yards, while Hall rushed five times for 34 yards.

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