After two highly physical days on the practice field against the Colts, the Browns took the fight to Lucas Oil Stadium for their second preseason game. They’d do so without the services of the majority of their starters, most notably Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. In a battle of backups it was the Browns coming out victorious 21-18 to improve to 2-0 in the preseason.
Here are five takeaways from Cleveland’s preseason victory.
1) Strong outing
It was a nice night for one Browns wideout trying to earn himself a spot on the roster. At first glance three receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown isn’t the most eye-popping statline. However, combined with two catches for 27 yards in the first preseason game, Strong has made a strong case for surviving roster cutdown day in two weeks. His four-yard touchdown catch was good for the Browns first score of the game as he put together a nice little night. Cleveland’s wide receiver room is easily their deepest position group, but Strong should comfortably make the roster if he keeps this up.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 17, 2019
2) Baker’s Backup
Drew Stanton provides the Browns locker room with a much needed veteran presence and has a great relationship with Freddie Kitchens, so it’s hard to believe anyone but Stanton begins the season as Baker Mayfield’s primary backup. That said, his disappointing outing in the first preseason game left much to be desired. Additionally, ex-AAF quarterback Garrett Gilbert has impressed in two preseason games, which has to make you wonder.
Gilbert went 13-for-19, for 151 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. Combine that and his 14-for-22 for 135 yards against the Redskins last week and Gilbert has completed just under 66-percent of his passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Yes he’s done this against team’s second and third stringers, but his performances have been too good to ignore. It sounds like Kitchens is at least considering keeping three quarterbacks so Gilbert may make the team regardless. Even if he only keeps two, Gilbert has done more to earn the No. 2 job than Stanton.
3) Hit the laundromat
A combined 29 penalties between the two teams made this one excruciatingly painful to watch. Indianapolis finished with 16 total penalties while Cleveland had 13. Throughout training camp, Freddie Kitchens has preached that they don’t want to practice bad habits and penalties so it’s safe to say a double digit penalty mark like this one won’t sit well with him. He’ll be addressing that with the team at practice this week.
4) Kareem first look
Browns fans got their first look at Kareem Hunt since he last played for Kansas City on Nov. 19 last year and it was a lackluster outing for the 24-year-old. With the the team’s offensive starters sitting this one out, Hunt was reportedly supposed to get double digit carries. Ultimately, he was handed the ball just only twice, picking up six yards. He was targeted once in the passing game but didn’t actually have a reception. He’s bound to get more action in the remaining two preseason games, especially considering he’ll be away from the team for eight weeks once the season begins.
Regardless of Hunt’s minimal contributions the Browns did get a nice spark from D’ernset, who carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards anc caught three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. With the emergence of Dontrell Hillard (he sat this one out with a hamstring injury) and now D’ernest, it’s easy to see why John Dorsey and company were so comfortable moving on from Duke Johnson before the regular season.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 17, 2019
5) Kicking concerns
If you were hoping to ease any concerns you had over the kick game on Saturday, you were probably disappointed. While both Austin Seibert and Greg Joseph combined to be a perfect 3-for-3 on PATs, they also both missed long field goals of 52 and 53 yards respectively. Yes, those are on the longer side as far as field goal attempts are concerned but there are kickers all over the league who can nail kicks from that distance and on a team this loaded, average kicking just ain’t gonna cut it. It’s time to start worrying.
What’s Next: The Browns are off on Sunday before wrapping up training camp with two final days of practice back home in Berea. They’ll hit the road later in the week as they’ll face the Buccaneers for their “final dress rehearsal” preseason game.