CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - No preseason games to evaluate players. Just a few weeks of training camp, and one cut ... coming Saturday afternoon.
The Browns must be down to 53 players by 4 pm. And while practice squads have increased this year to 16 players, there will be a lot of athletes losing their jobs, a lot of dreams crushed.
Kevin Stefanski won’t get specific when asked how the pandemic may alter how he and Andrew Berry build the roster. In other words, do they keep three quarterbacks instead of two, in case one tests positive for Covid-19?
But the head coach did offer praise for players who are going to make his decisions very difficult.
“I think a lot of that, as you can imagine, we want to keep to ourselves,” Stefanski said on Thursday. “I will tell you this, this team works. There has not been one moment, one time out here on the practice field that this team has bucked at the thought of working. They have done everything we have asked them. They have pushed through when it is hot. They have pushed through injuries. We are just trying to get a team that when we cut this thing down to 53, which is not going to be easy, we want to get a team that we feel confident going into the season. I think you know I am not going to make any bold proclamations or predictions about who we are.”
Still, the lack of preseason games will hurt players on the bubble who would have had a chance to make an impact.
Even Friday night’s practice at First Energy Stadium falls short of one final push for those on the bubble. Stefanski said he’s treating it as more of a dress rehearsal than an evaluation.
“It is a dress rehearsal in the stadium,” Stefanski said. “I mean that literally in terms of they are going to be in their uniforms, the coaches are going to be dressed in their game attire, we are going put headsets on and the coaches will be up in the booth. It is going to be a crisp, quick practice. It is not going to be a scrimmage. It is not going to be something where we are going to play the young guys for an hour to see what we have because the truth is, this whole camp has been an evaluation of those young guys. They get evaluated in their individual period and they get evaluated in the classroom so it is way more of a dress rehearsal. The guys need to go through what pregame warm up looks like.”
For many, it’ll be the final time they’re in a Browns uniform. Unless they were able to make their case on the practice field in Berea.