Earlier Cleveland Browns preseason games have had more hype than tonight’s 8pm showdown against the Chicago Bears. But practically speaking, tonight’s Browns game probably gives fans the greatest chance of seeing Johnny Manziel get extended playing time.
Since Brian Hoyer was named Cleveland’s week 1 starter, Browns coach Mike Pettine has managed to keep “Johnny Football” mania alive by claiming the Browns are considering a two-QB system. Whether that’s true or not, the Browns are likely to give Manziel the majority of the reps tonight as Hoyer rests up for his Week 1 opener against the Steelers.
The fourth game of the preseason, as tonight’s Bears vs Browns game is, largely sees the starting offense and defense sit on the sidelines to avoid injury. That paves the way for second- and third-stringers to see extended reps. And nobody in the NFL is a more high-profile, must-watch bench player than Manziel.
Manziel won’t be playing with the Browns’ starting offensive line or wide receivers, but that’s not to say the wide receiver play won’t be interesting in tonight’s Browns game. Cleveland All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for the entire 2014 NFL season due to a repeat violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. As he explores playing in the Canadian Football League, the Browns will be looking tonight for someone to take his place.
The Chicago Bears will also be looking at their offense. Running Back Forte finished last season third in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (1,933 yards) and was named to his second Pro Bowl. Forte rushed for 1,339 yards, accounting for 71.5% of all Chicago rushing attempts. His 9,585 total yards from scrimmage since 2008 ranks third in the NFL behind Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson. Finding a reliable backup RB to alleviate that burden will be key.
Tonight that could be Jordan Lynch, the one-time Heisman Trophy finalist, though he’ll likely see just as much time on special teams at Browns Stadium. Lynch carried the ball seven times for 24 yards in the Bears’ preseason opener, but he hasn’t touched the football in Chicago’s previous two games. He played five snaps on special teams against the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago.
Tonight’s Chicago Bears / Cleveland Browns game kicks off at 8:00 pm EST from FirstEnergy Stadium. The game is being televised live on the NFL Network, but you can also watch Bears vs Browns live online free preseason week 4 if you’ve signed-up for the NFL Preseason Live service. That program lets fans watch all preseason NFL games live online for $19.99. NFL Network subscribers who aren’t near their TV have another option to watch the game live via the NFL Online website. All that’s required there is to enter your login info for your satellite or cable TV provider.