CLEVELAND (AP) — This was a win that hurt the Browns.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden’s second straight strong performance turned into only a footnote Thursday night in a 24-6 victory over the Lions.
Weeden, who has done everything to win Cleveland’s starting job and is only waiting for coach Rob Chudzinski to make it official, threw two touchdown passes in the first half and starred again. However, Weeden’s night was overshadowed by major injuries to Browns rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) and running back Dion Lewis (broken leg).
The Browns also lost guard Jason Pinkston (sprained ankle), tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained shoulder) and kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin).
The Lions didn’t have any excuses for playing poorly.
They were without star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who was rested with a bruised knee, but Detroit’s offense struggled for the second week in a row and coach Jim Schwartz was disappointed with his team’s effort as well as several costly penalties.
Here are five things we learned while watching the Browns roll, more like limp, to their second impressive win of the preseason:
1. BRUISED, BATTERED: Mingo was kept overnight at The Cleveland Clinic as a precaution with the uncommon injury. The Browns initially said Mingo had hurt his ribs, but Chudzinski startled reporters with news that he had been hospitalized. It’s not known how long Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft, will be out.
The injuries to Lewis and Pinkston could be costly. The versatile Lewis has had an impressive training camp and preseason, and the Browns are currently thin at running back after Montario Hardesty underwent knee surgery. Pinkston, who survived blood clots in his lungs last season, was filling in for Shawn Lauvao. He had ankle surgery last week.
Rookie Garrett Gilkey could be thrust into the starting lineup or the Browns may have to find an established guard.
2. LIONS AND FLAGS AND INFRACTIONS, OH MY: Detroit was whistled for eight penalties, including three personal fouls in the first half.
Running back Reggie Bush lost his cool after a play and was called for unnecessary roughness, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Shu, no stranger to officials, was whistled for roughing Weeden.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz was dismayed by the 15-yard infractions.
“It doesn’t matter what happens out there,” he said. “Reggie got hit right in the back after a play, but that doesn’t give you any reason to put our offense in a worse position. Regardless of what you think of the call, it doesn’t matter. It gets called and we pay the price for it.”
3. WEEDEN SHINES: With every tight spiral, completion and touchdown, Weeden silences more critics and doubters. In two games, he’s 18 of 25 for 229 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Earlier this week, Chudzinski said the competition between Weeden and Jason Campbell was “still close.”
“I was pleased,” Chudzinski said of Weeden. “He was efficient out there, accurate and had a couple of really nice throws where he was able to get it into some tight areas. He looked comfortable out there.”
4. BANKRUPT DETROIT: The Lions’ starting offense can’t find the end zone.
In two games, Detroit’s first unit has managed only field goals. Without Johnson, the Lions didn’t have a downfield threat, but quarterback Matthew Stafford refused to use Megatron’s absence as an excuse and said the lack of scoring is becoming an issue.
“We should be concerned a little bit,” said Stafford, who went 11 of 16 for 74 yards. “We are better than that. We have to hold ourselves accountable because we need to put points on the board.”
5. AIR JORDAN: A basketball walk-on at USC and friend of NBA All-Star Blake Griffin, Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is beginning to make a name for himself.
He caught both of Weeden’s TD passes on throws into the end zone where his size — 6-foot-5, 252 pounds — gave him a big advantage over smaller defensive backs. Cameron may thrive in coordinator Norv Turner’s tight end friendly offense.
“I’m trying to get better every day,” said Cameron, who only had 20 catches last season. “This is definitely a work in progress.”