The goal for Browns coach Rob Chudzinski in tonight's game at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts should be simple.
In this case, simple means emerging from the game without the drama that followed the Browns at every corner this week. There were injuries to talk about from the preseason game against the Detroit Lions, including what could be a serious lung problem for rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Those issues were followed by revelations of several serious speeding violations by receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon, the latter of whom can't afford many more missteps with the organization.
"It's part of the job," Chudzinski said of dealing with the distractions. "All different types of things come up that are part of the job that isn't a distraction unless you make it a distraction."
Chudzinski talked with Little and Gordon about the need to be more responsible and the importance of casting a positive image of the organization to the public. He refused to go into detail about the conversations.
Chudzinski will likely be grateful to be on the field tonight for the third preseason game. As always, the penultimate preseason contest is important because it's the dress rehearsal for the season opener. Most of the starters will play the entire first half and perhaps into the early stages of the third quarter.
Fans of both teams will get another opportunity to see Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden go against Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. The two squared off in a regular-season game last year that was won by the Colts, 17-13.
Weeden actually had the better of things individually, completing 25-of-41 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon dropped what would have been a touchdown on a deep route in the fourth quarter that might have given the Browns a win. Luck was 16 of 29 for 186 yards. He ran for two touchdowns.
Chudzinski ended the worst-kept secret in northeastern Ohio this week when he announced that Weeden would be the starter for the season. In preseason wins over the St. Louis Rams and Lions, Weeden is 18-of-25 for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
Weeden was making weekly strides at the time of the game against the Colts on Oct. 21. He struggled in the second half of the season and finished with a 72.6 passer rating.
"I played fairly well in Indy," Weeden said. "I did some good things, but we weren't able to win that game. When I think about that game I still think about losing.
"I've taken steps that I've needed to take to better myself, but I have to keep continuing to do the things I've been doing all along up to this point to become that player I want to be. I'm not satisfied. That's kind of my mindset."
Running back Trent Richardson will start for the second straight week after missing the Rams' game with a sore shin. Unlike many of the other starters, Richardson won't play the entire first half.
The first-team defense played well in each of the first two games. The unit forced and recovered a fumble and forced a three-and-out possession against the Rams. Against the Lions the defensive starters forced three three-and-outs out of the five possessions. The Lions had one first down before punting on a fourth possession and on a fifth chance with the ball they had three first downs in leading to a 48-yard field goal by David Akers.
Defensive starters that won't play include end Desmond Bryant (back), Mingo and cornerback Chris Owens (foot). Bryant and Owens aren't worried about possibly missing the opener. Mingo's situation is precarious at best because of the uncertainty of his injury (lung contusion).