CLEVELAND - There's a reason why some NFL coaches play their starters in the final preseason game.
It usually means they didn't play well enough in the third game to warrant a week off. For that reason, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski is contemplating giving selected starters a little playing time in the preseason finale Thursday on the road against the Chicago Bears.
"We're going to approach this next game that those guys are going to play," Chudzinski said. "Then I'll make that determination later in the week as it goes on."
The first open locker room after a loss usually turns into a case of damage control. There was some of that in play Monday when quarterback Brandon Weeden addressed reporters.
The offense collectively staged a poor showing in a 27-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Thursday. Weeden was 12 of 25 for 105 yards. Chudzinski admitted that the receivers struggled to get separation from coverage.
Weeden was anxious to curb negative talk after the loss.
"Fortunately this one didn't count," Weeden said. "I don't think there's any reason to push the panic button, like a lot of people want to."
Weeden didn't identify those people, but the usual suspects would be the fan base. Weeden's play in the first two preseason games was good enough to have some fans talking playoffs. The shaky start against the Colts brought out the eternal pessimists.
"People being creatures of habit. When you lose a game people want to (panic)," Weeden said. "In here, it's been great all day. It's not in this room. We're excited. We saw the mistakes. They're all fixable. That one is behind us. Now we're looking forward to Chicago."
Weeden analyzed tape of the loss to the Colts four times. What stood out most was the tight coverage of the Colts secondary.
"Their defense played outstanding," Weeden said. "Their coverage was great all night. You have to give credit where credit is due. They played well. We have to play better."
The coverage by the Colts secondary forced Weeden into some throws he didn't want to attempt. That led to speculation that he was staring down receivers, a criticism that followed him all of last season.
"The last time I checked you have to look at whom you're throwing to," Weeden said. "Most of the time you're working half the field. If you can see I'm staring down receivers from up there (in the press box) ... You have to look where you're throwing and be smart on certain routes and move safeties and all those things."
Chudzinski also cautioned about overreacting to the loss.
"Just want to make sure we put this in perspective," Chudzinski said. "It's a preseason game. It was a real good learning opportunity for us playing against a real good team, and it's a good chance for us to evaluate ourselves, evaluate our personnel as we're moving forward here."
Chudzinski has to be smart when deciding to play some of the starters in Chicago. He knows the importance of avoiding a 15-day break between games if they don't play, but the flip side is the possibility of injury.
"There have been a bunch of injuries. It seems like more than normal," Weeden said. "You can't think about it when you're out there. It's part of this business. Injuries are going to happen. You have to move on. We'll see. Whatever he (Chudzinski) wants to do, I'm all for it."