Cleveland falls at home to Bears

CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III led Cleveland’s starting offense on a short touchdown drive against Chicago’s defensive backups in a 21-7 exhibition loss to the Bears on Thursday night.

Ka’Deem Carey scored on a 1-yard run in the first half, rookie Jordan Howard had a 16-yard TD run and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals as the Bears (1-3) avoided a winless preseason.

Not the Browns, who look as if they could use more time before the Sept. 11 opener.

Isaiah Crowell had a 4-yard TD for the Browns (0-4), who played Griffin and the offensive starters for the first quarter. RG3, attempting to revive his career in Cleveland after an ugly departure from Washington, went 4 of 8 for 31 yards during his three series.

Griffin’s night might have been over after the second possession, but the Bears fumbled a punt, giving Cleveland the ball at the Chicago 18.

Griffin threw two incompletions in the end zone before Crowell — with Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas watching from the sideline — squirted in on third down to give the Browns a 7-3 lead. It took Cleveland six plays to cover the 18 yards.

Following a dismal performance last week at Tampa Bay, Browns coach Hue Jackson felt his starters needed more playing time before his team takes on Philadelphia in 10 days. He was willing to risk the potential for injuries so his players could carry some confidence into Week 1.

This may give them a little.

Cleveland’s first-string offense — the defense came out after one series — didn’t exactly dominate the Bears backups, and Griffin, who connected on several deep passes in the first three exhibitions, only completed one pass to a wide receiver.

Unfortunately for the Browns, Josh Gordon will miss the first four games of the regular season while serving an NFL suspension for drug violations. He had three catches for 29 yards.

Still, Jackson was pleased with his team’s effort.

“Yeah, they got the work in that I wanted,” he said. “We started slow, though. We have to start a little faster.”

Unlike Jackson, Bears coach John Fox rested his starters, allowing him and his staff to get a longer look at some of the players fighting for roster spots.

Brian Hoyer seems secure as Chicago’s No. 2 QB behind Jay Cutler, and the veteran finished his preseason with a solid night, going 12 of 16 for 112 yards. He only had one starter with him on offense — wide receiver Kevin White, who had four catches for 57 yards.

Gould’s field goals were from 27, 30 and 43 yards.

ROOKIE WATCH

Bears: OLB Leonard Floyd, the No. 9 overall pick, was one of three rookies to start. Floyd appeared to get poked in the eye during the second quarter.

Browns: WR Corey Coleman made his first catch of the preseason, but also dropped a pass on a crossing route that had the potential to be a big play. The No. 15 overall pick, Coleman missed Cleveland’s first two exhibitions with a hamstring injury.

POSITION BATTLES

Browns: WR Taylor Gabriel helped his chances of making the roster with a 37-yard punt return in the third quarter. The 25-year-old and veteran Andrew Hawkins could be in trouble after the Browns drafted four wide receivers this year.

INJURY UPDATE

Bears: DE Cornelius Washington and LB Danny Mason sustained knee injuries in the first half and didn’t return.

Browns: RB Rajion Neal was carted off in the fourth quarter after appearing to suffer a serious leg injury.

CB Justin Gilbert sat out with a concussion sustained last week, preventing him from securing a roster spot. WR Marlon Moore, a mainstay on special teams, was sidelined with a hip pointer.

QUOTABLE

Bears: Defensive end Akiem Hicks on the front seven living up to expectations: “I hope so. I definitely feel like we’ve played together a little bit more. Last week, in our third preseason game, I feel like we gelled just a little bit more and guys know how to play together a little bit more and I’m excited to see that.”

Browns: Pro Bowl TE Gary Barnidge on the team converting on a trip into the red zone: “It was good to get back out there and get the bad taste out of our mouths from last week because we didn’t play the way we wanted to. We got out there and showed what we could do, and I’m looking forward to the regular season.”

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