The Cleveland Browns will rest a slew of their top players while the St. Louis Rams hope to test out their new young talent during their preseason game on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Cleveland reportedly pulled running back Trent Richardson and safety T.J. Ward, along with offensive linemen Shawn Lauvao, Leon McFadden, and second string running back Montario Hardesy.
Richardson, the Browns first-round draft choice from 2012, who rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season, is battling a shin injury, and head coach Rob Chudzinski would rather avoid putting his top back in harm’s way.
A report by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer claims running back Dion Lewis will start instead, with Chris Ogbonnaya perhaps playing at fullback.
St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher is taking a different approach, and will give assumed top running back Daryl Richardson a chance to officially claim the position. Fisher reportedly told St. Louis television station KMOV that Richardson got the starting nod due to his extensive time on the field last season compared to the other backs on the roster.
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Both teams will field their starting quarterbacks from last year, but are unlikely to play more than the first quarter. Last year, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden put together a solid rookie season with 3,385 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. Former No. 1 pick Sam Bradford tossed a career-best 21 touchdowns last season.
Fans of both teams could get a chance to see this year’s batch of rookies, including first round picks Barkevious Mingo and Tavon Austin. Highly touted out of LSU, Mingo could significantly improve a Cleveland pass rush that was 11th in the league last season with 38 sacks. Austin, a speedster out of West Virginia, may be Bradford’s best offensive weapon since Danny Amendola before the injuries. He was the first wide receiver selected in the draft.
The game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
Betting Odds: Cleveland is favored by 2.5 points
Over/Under: 33.5 points
Predicted Score: St. Louis 20, Cleveland 17