CLEVELAND - Having had three chances to prove their cases, NFL players in 32 cities are looking at the fourth preseason game as a final chance to make a favorable impression.
There certainly won't be a shortage of opportunities to impress the bosses. Coaches will be sitting starters for health purposes and to give backups more opportunities to show they deserve to be part of the 53-man roster.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur won't call on many starters tonight at home against the Chicago Bears. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden (precautionary reasons) and running back Trent Richardson (recent knee surgery) won't play for sure.
It remains to be seen of any of the starters play in a game that's turned into the cartoons before the feature movie.
"There are a lot of things I think about when we decide who's playing," Shurmur said. "I think about injury for the first game. I think about guys that need to show us more, and then guys going out there wanting to compete and make this team.
"I wouldn't read too much into who's in the game who's not. You can try to predict who's going to make it, but unfortunately at some positions you're going to have to wait."
Among the most important of final evaluations will be for the backup quarterback spot. Colt McCoy will start, with Seneca Wallace following in the rotation. Thad Lewis, who appears set as the third quarterback, will probably receive most of the playing time.
McCoy probably has a slight edge over Wallace, but neither of the two has looked good in practices. Facing the second teams of the first three opponents, McCoy has completed 75 percent of his passes for 234 yards and one touchdown. Wallace, whose cause might be damaged by a more lucrative contract, has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"Having a year and an offseason within what we're trying to do, I'm starting to really focus on a lot of things other than specifically our offense," McCoy said. "I'm watching defenses, blitzes, and I'm getting a grasp as a whole of what playing fast as a quarterback feels like."
Another interesting area on offense is at tight end, which has become a more important position throughout the NFL as passing games have evolved. Evan Moore is listed as fourth on the depth chart, which will probably earn him a spot, but Dan Gronkowski has showed up more in practices.
Then again Moore might not have to worry if the undisclosed injury that's sidelined Ben Watson since early in training camp doesn't improve. Watson ended last season on injured reserve after suffering a third concussion.
There shouldn't be much intrigue at running back. Richardson should be back soon (perhaps for the opener). Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson look to be the backups, which means Chris Ogbonnaya might be gone.
Receivers making the final roster should be Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin, Jordan Norwood and Joshua Cribbs.
There will be some decisions to make on the offensive line behind starters Joe Thomas, Jason Pinkston, Alex Mack, Shaun Lauvao and Mitchell Schwartz. John Greco and rookie Ryan Miller will probably stay. Oniel Cousins is hurt. When healthy Cousins will likely be a backup tackle.
The biggest battle on defense is at safety. T.J. Ward and Eric Hagg are set as starters. Usama Young hurt his cause by missing most of camp with a leg injury, but he's back and should be safe. It could come down to rookie free agent Tashaun Gipson and second-year free agent David Sims for a spot.
Six linebackers appear locked in - Scott Fujita, D'Qwell Jackson, Kaluka Maiava, rookie James-Michael Johnson, rookie free agent L.J. Fort and free agent Craig Robertson.
There has to be a decision on a starting defensive tackle next to Ahtyba Rubin. Rookie John Hughes is the frontrunner after coming off a minor injury. Rookie Billy Winn has looked good and will get plenty of time in the regular season.
The coaches like rookie Ronnie Cameron, who was acquired off waivers from the Bears. He's third on the depth chart but could move up because of Scott Paxon's knee injury.