The Browns are set to begin their second preseason game against the Eagles on a different note from their first game last week against the Jaguars — most of the starters will be out.
It's no surprise head coach Kevin Stefanski ruled out the starters after two productive joint practice days against the Eagles. The two practices were the toughest and arguably most important days of the preseason as it allowed the Browns to assess the state of the roster in a controlled environment.
"You look and the reason that you choose a team like the Eagles is they have a different scheme than us," Stefanski said. "When you get to this point in training camp, our offense has seen our defense quite a whole lot and vice versa. I think it is important as you get into game-planning mode and those type of things, you have to go against a different front.
"The Eagles have different fronts, and they have different coverages. On the other side, they have a very different run scheme and different pass concepts, so you get to a 7-on-7, and our defense is defending concepts that they have not seen to date."
Now, the two sides will prepare to play a real game. Here are some of the biggest questions that we could have answers to by the end of Sunday.
Which receivers can stand out?
The biggest ongoing position battle on the roster is arguably at wide receiver, where the spots behind Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones are still up for grabs.
No receiver built a big game last week in Jacksonville — RB Jerome Ford was the leading receiver with 45 yards. The Browns would love for anyone in the group of Anthony Schwartz, David Bell, Javon Wims, Mike Harley Jr., Ja'Marcus Bradley or Daylen Baldwin to change that in Week 2. After a couple drops against the Jaguars, Schwartz rebounded nicely in practices this week and caught a few deep balls. Harley, an undrafted free agent, has also been smooth throughout training camp, and Baldwin, an undrafted free agent from Michigan, has made a few nice plays in practice since he joined the team Aug. 3.
Any of them can boost their stock Sunday with a productive game.
The second day of joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on August 18, 2022.
Which rookies build off big debuts?
Ford, CB M.J. Emerson Jr., K Cade York and DE Isaiah Thomas were all among the biggest contributors that helped the Browns secure a 24-13 win against the Jaguars.
Will any of them repeat in Week 2?
Ford is one player who looked especially good against the Eagles in joint practices and has been one of the top standouts in all of training camp. His agility and burst are two of his biggest traits and why the Browns liked drafting him in the fifth round out of Cincinnati, and he'll be one of the most interesting players to watch again on Sunday. After two sacks in the game last week, it's unlikely Thomas will play after he suffered a hand injury.
If he plays, Bell, the third-rounder from Purdue, would also make his Browns debut. He didn't play last week as he continued his progression back from a foot injury that sidelined him through the first half of training camp, but he now has two weeks of practice under him, and the Browns could give him his first game action this week.
How does York do in his FirstEnergy debut?
York has already practiced several kicks at FirstEnergy Stadium since the Browns sent their specialists to the stadium once a week during the offseason program. Settling into the venue will be crucial for how much success York finds in his rookie season, but all signs from training camp suggest he'll do just fine.
York unofficially missed three kicks in 36 total attempts during field goal periods in training camp, and all of the misses were from 50 yards or longer. The power York is able to put behind the ball is truly remarkable and should help him drive kicks through the swirling winds and other elements that make kicking in Cleveland difficult.
The winds won't be very high Sunday — the forecast currently calls for winds between 5-10 mph, and there is also chance of thunderstorms, which would lead to a game stoppage. But any kicks the Browns give York should be beneficial to his overall confidence in his new home.
What more can Dobbs show?
QB Jacoby Brissett is not expected to play, so that means the start will go to Josh Dobbs, who performed well in the first preseason game by going 10-for-13 with 108 yards and one touchdown.
With Deshaun Watson suspended the first 11 games, Dobbs appears to be the leading candidate to serve as the backup to Brissett, and the Browns will likely give Josh Rosen a large chunk of snaps Sunday, too.
"I think everything is a competition," Stefanski said. "All of these players are earning their role. Josh Dobbs is farther along because he has been with us [longer] than Josh Rosen, but everything is a competition."