Weeden shines as Browns breeze past Lions
CLEVELAND (AP) — A meaningless exhibition win for the Browns turned troubling, and then deeply serious.
From good to bad to worse.
Rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo sustained a bruised lung, running back Dion Lewis broke his left leg and the Browns came away battered in a 24-6 victory over the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.
Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick in April’s NFL draft, will be hospitalized in the Cleveland Clinic overnight with his injury. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski did not know how Mingo got hurt and didn’t provide any other details of the young linebacker’s condition.
A team spokesman said Mingo was taken to the Clinic’s main campus before the game ended.
Mingo left in the first half with what the team initially reported as a rib injury. However, Chudzinski reported the bruised lung following the game and said Lewis, the team’s valuable backup to starter Trent Richardson, had fractured his fibula.
“They’re unfortunate,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said of the injuries. “It’s a preseason game, guys are flying around, a lot of adrenaline and all that stuff. We just got to get those guys back as soon as we can and the guys that are right behind them have to step up.”
The Browns also lost starting right guard Jason Pinkston (sprained ankle), tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained shoulder) and rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin). Pinkston left FirstEnergy Stadium wearing a walking boot and on crutches.
Lewis’ injury could be especially costly for the Browns, who will be without running back Montario Hardesty for at least a month following knee surgery.
The injuries cast a pall over another solid performance by Weeden and both Cleveland’s offense and defense.
“It was a tough night from an injury perspective,” Chudzinski said. “But we made some strides from a performance standpoint. That’s the game, guys get injured and other guys get opportunities and have to step up — and that’s what good teams are able to do. And that’s what we’ll have to do.”
Weeden threw two touchdown passes to Jordan Cameron and perhaps ended any more discussion about a quarterback competition in Cleveland. He connected on TD passes of 10 and 5 yards to Cameron in the first half as the Browns (2-0) opened a 17-0 lead.
Weeden finished 8 of 12 for 117 yards. In two weeks, he’s 18 of 25 for 229 yards and three TDs.
On Tuesday, Chudzinski would not commit to a starter for Week 1, saying the competition between Weeden and backup Jason Campbell was “still close.”
If it was, it’s not anymore.
“Competition sells newspapers, I understand that,” Weeden said. “Really all I can control is going out and playing well. Try to play mistake-free football, do the things that I can control and that’s being accurate, managing this offense. And for the most part, I think I’ve done that through the first two games.”
Richardson made his NFL exhibition debut and gained 33 yards on six carries, showing some elusiveness and power.
Matt Stafford completed 11 of 16 for 74 yards for the Lions (1-1), but was without superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who sat out with a bruised knee.
Detroit rookie kicker Havard Rugland, the Norwegian YouTube sensation, made a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter. He has converted all three tries during the preseason.
Weeden led the Browns on three scoring drives in the first half before turning things in the second quarter to Campbell, who went 12 of 14 for 106 yards and one TD.
Richardson missed all four preseason games as a rookie last year, when he was coming off knee surgery. The Browns sat their young star last week as a precaution because of a shin injury, but Chudzinski gave Richardson clearance to play and he made the most of his two series.
Richardson broke two tackles, made a spin move and got loose on a 17-yard run in the first quarter.
“It was good to get him out here,” Chudzinski said. “He took a couple hits and delivered a couple as well.”
While Cleveland’s offense hummed, Detroit’s sputtered — again.
The Lions’ starters didn’t cross the 50 until midway through the second quarter and settled for a 48-yard field goal by David Akers.
Detroit’s first-team offense hasn’t scored a TD in the preseason.
“We didn’t have Calvin, but that’s no excuse,” Stafford said. “We can’t use that as a crutch. We didn’t take too many shots downfield. We didn’t stay on the field long enough to get a chance to.”
Without Johnson, Stafford didn’t have his primary target and Lions coach Jim Schwartz kept the play calling conservative, perhaps not to reveal much to the Browns, who will host the Lions on Oct. 13.
Reggie Bush showed signs of being the breakaway threat Detroit has coveted since Barry Sanders retired. The Lions signed him to a four-year, $16 million deal in March. He rushed for 15 yards on eight carries and caught five passes for 44.
Detroit was called for three personal fouls in the first half, including a roughing-the-passer call on surly defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on Cleveland’s first TD drive.
Schwartz couldn’t find anything to be happy with.
“There’s plenty to go around, that’s for sure. We played poorly in all three phases,” said Schwartz, who was most displeased with the penalties. “That’s another thing we’ve got to do a better job at. It doesn’t matter what happens out there. It gets called. We pay the price for it. Last week we did a better job of controlling our emotions.”
NOTES: Johnson didn’t practice Tuesday and his injury is not believed to be serious. Last season, he led the league with 122 catches and set the NFL single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards. … Browns RB Brandon Jackson had a 14-yard TD catch in the fourth. … Lions RB Joique Bell twice shoved down a streaker, who ran onto the field in the third quarter. Undaunted, the nearly naked man ran the length of the field before he was tackled near the end zone by security. “My technique was awesome,” Bell joked. “I didn’t really tackle him. I had a couple of knockdowns that might get me some more points in the special team’s room.”