With some teams officially eliminated from post-season play, it’s a good time for many to look ahead to next year.
And that doesn’t just apply to Cleveland Browns fans, who are certainly used to it.
But also to head coach Kevin Stefanski, who should assume he will be back and try to get a look at some young players.
Regular season, real-game action is hard to come by for some backups.
The Cleveland Browns have been eliminated from the playoffs pic.twitter.com/OQqtGu6ycF
— PFF (@PFF) December 24, 2022
We’ve seen time and again how college standouts and preseason stars can’t keep up come September.
So why not play some of the potential 2023 contributors now to see how they fare at full speed?
Pending free agents and other veterans probably appreciate the lowered injury risks, anyway.
Here are 2 players who should see more playing time for the Browns.
Running Back Jerome Ford
Cleveland drafted Jerome Ford in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Several of the pre-draft evaluations compared his style and ability to none other than Kareem Hunt.
One player who has looked less like Kareem Hunt recently is… Kareem Hunt.
Jerome Ford busts out a huge run for the Browns in his NFL preseason debut pic.twitter.com/T5elEmZXy9
— Barstool Cincinnati (@UCBarstool) August 13, 2022
Any chance of re-signing the Cleveland native, a 2023 free agent, probably ends with this season’s 3.9 yards-per-carry average.
So it is probably time to give fans a preview of Cleveland’s most likely RB-2 for next season.
And fans should realize that any Hunt or D’Ernest Johnson carry might be the last time they are seen in a Browns uniform.
Wide Receiver Michael Woods II
Cleveland should continue running out all of their wide receivers over the next 2 weeks to see who shows the most promise.
Demetric Felton and David Bell bring specific skills to the table and might be favorites to earn 2023 roster spots.
But Michael Woods was cited for his “sneaky speed” as opposed to Anthony Schwartz’s track record speed.
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) August 2, 2022
If Woods can use his acceleration to break free deep for Deshaun Watson, he could knock the track star off the roster.
And it would help if he handles the more mundane patterns that come in between.
If Woods hits a few plays, Berry could roster a trio of his 6th-round wide receivers with Woods, Felton, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Keep Tony Fields Out There, Too
Linebacker Tony Fields took up a roster spot and was told to watch from the sideline during his rookie season.
Injuries presented an opportunity for him to see the field this year, and he responded well.
Against New Orleans, Joe Woods kept Fields out there for 78% of the defensive snaps.
— Browns fan UK (@brownsfanuk) December 4, 2022
Fields wound up with 10 tackles (6 solos) on the day.
Back in Week 13, Fields came up with his first forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown.
Keeping Fields out there could determine how aggressively the Browns have to pursue linebackers in the offseason.