Bears guarantee Browns a winless preseason

Steve Doerschuk

If you were a fan, you may have nodded off during the Browns’ latest loss, 16-10 to the Bears, which left them with their second winless preseason in 58 years.

If you were a backup player or a coach, this was rousing stuff.

With four minutes left in the third quarter, and with even the Dawg Pound running at one-third occupancy, a Browns cornerback many fans never heard of, Travis Daniels, broke up a deep sideline pass to a former Round 2 pick who has been a Bears bust, Mark Bradley.

The pass was thrown by rookie Caleb “Who’s He” Hanie; yet, Daniels, probably headed for the No. 4 cornerback job, made a vintage Deion Sanders gesture -- incomplete -- worthy of the Dallas drama queens coming to town Sept. 7.

Head Coach Romeo Crennel came in with a minimum expectation of “looking decent.” His patchwork first-team offense exceeded that standard, building a 10-0 lead behind quarterback Brady Quinn (7-of-9, 65 yards).

“We were happy with being able to drive the length of the field twice, right out of the gate,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “That was important to get a little bit of momentum back.”

Crennel’s view of that segment: “I wanted us to look decent, and I thought we did.”

The rest of the game served only to demonstrate what dire straits the Browns will reach if both Derek Anderson and Quinn are down at the same time.

No. 3 QB Ken Dorsey quickly lost the 10-0 lead, demonstrating his weak arm on a deep throw toward a wide-open Lance Leggett, a fellow former Miami Hurricane who needed major drama to avoid Saturday’s final cutdown to 53.

A touchdown would have reversed Chicago’s 13-10 lead as the Browns bid to avoid only their second winless preseason in history (they were 0-6 in 1972).

They were trying to finish 1-3. Then, they could have stretched a point and noted that the last time the Browns reached an AFC title game, 1989, the preseason record was 1-4. The last of Paul Brown’s three NFL championships as Cleveland’s head coach came in 1955, when the preseason record was 1-5.

Debate all you want about what Thursday’s preseason finale meant. There’s no question it wasn’t supposed to mean more injuries.

Quarterback Derek Anderson already was out a second straight game with a concussion. Asked if he thinks Quinn will be ready for the Dallas game, Quinn paused and said, “Yeah, I would say so, but that’s something that Romeo and D.A. would be better to answer.”

Crennel would only say “nope” when asked if he knows if Anderson is likely to face Dallas.

Meanwhile, starting right guard Rex Hadnot went down with a right knee injury midway through the Browns’ second drive.

Hadnot started all four preseason games while Ryan Tucker recovered from a hip injury. Tucker’s return for the Dallas game is uncertain, but he is expected back soon.

Right guard is one of the Browns’ deepest positions. Seth McKinney, who started the first eight games last year, replaced Hadnot Thursday. The Browns were 5-3 in McKinney’s 2007 starts.

Two key backups also got hurt. Syndric Steptoe, who has looked promising as a receiver and replaced injured Joshua Cribbs as the return man, left early with a shoulder injury.

In a preseason full of nagging injuries to tight ends, the only one who has been healthy all year, Darnell Dinkins, succumbed to a hip injury.

Crennel woke up the fans who were left when, trailing 13-10 midway through the fourth quarter, he went for it on fourth-and-2 from the 13. No. 2 fullback Charles Ali made the first down and was saved by a replay challenge -- at first he was ruled to have fumbled.

Overtime being as desirable as watching re-runs of the Great Lakes Classic, Crennel went for it on fourth and goal from the 2. Dorsey scrambled and scrambled and threw incomplete with 5:24 left. An 11-carry, 70-yard rushing game by rookie Travis Thomas, a million-to-one longshot to make the 53-man final roster, was wasted.

Dorsey (10-of-20, 92 yards) cemented the loss with an interception near the two-minute warning that handed Chicago a late field goal.

But he’s hardly the question. That would be this: Will Anderson be ready for the Cowboys? Or should Quinn stay warm?

The Repository