A Look at Preseason Game #2 – Browns vs. Falcons
Following their first road trip (and defeat) of the exhibition season, the Browns will finally get a game in front of their home crowd. Hopefully they are be able to build upon some positives that occurred last week, as well as see some action from a few guys who were held out of the opener. I don’t expect to see a huge jump in performance by the whole team, but just what can Browns’ fans expect?
Quarterback: I would really like to see two things in this contest. One is Robert Griffin leading the offense to a touchdown (more than one would be great). The other is to see how Cody Kessler can take what happened from last contest and build upon it. He tossed a touchdown but also made several mistakes. With Austin Davis suffering a concussion last week, Kessler might see a majority of playing time in the second half of this contest.
Running Back: I envision Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson getting limited playing time in this contest, so the battle between Raheem Mostert and Terrell Watson rages on. Provided the coaches agree, I would like to see Watson get the lion’s share of repetitions in this matchup. It’s likely that only one of these two will make the final roster – I feel we already know what we are getting with Mostert.
Wide Receiver: Will we see Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins complement this offense? I surely hope so, as they can make this passing offense more formidable. I expect big things from the rookie, while the veteran might end up as the starter in the slot. Rashard Higgins took an early lead to see which of the other three rookies will step up. He warrants playing time earlier in the contest; I expect to see him make a play or two Friday night.
Tight End: We all know what we got with Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge, but what about the guys behind him (on the depth chart)? E.J. Bibbs made a nice grab last week, while Connor Hamlett had a touchdown – which was disallowed following a Josh McCown penalty. I’m starting to feel that the Browns actually have depth at this position and one of the unexpected younger guys might make his mark with this club.
Offensive Line: There are two key spot on the offensive line I will be focusing on during this contest. At right tackle, will Spencer Drango fortify the starting right tackle job? Or will a veteran like Austin Pasztor or Alvin Bailey be the man on the right edge? Meanwhile, is Cameron Erving the heir apparent (after many years of Alex Mack) at center? I want to see some solid-to-dominating play by the second year athlete, but that might be asking for a big much at his point.
Defensive Line: I really enjoyed the way Carl Nassib and Jamie Meder played in last week’s contest. Was this a one-time thing, or will both be able to be reliable upon this season? Assuming Danny Shelton can up his play, Meder appears to be a solid reserve nose tackle. While Desmond Bryant’s injury appears to still loom large – I’m still holding out that Nassib and fellow rookie Emmanuel Ogbah can soften the blow by playing well. Meanwhile I am eager to watch John Hughes return back to this club and potentially grab a starting role at one of the defensive end spots.
Linebacker: Where is the Browns’ pass rush? That is the question, but I am not sure whether we will see an answer prior to the regular season opener. Paul Kruger and Nate Orchard are in line as starting linebackers; the team still needs another reliable guy or two to help in situations. Barkevious Mingo might be on his last shot with this team; meanwhile Armonty Bryant is suspended for the first four games of the regular season. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far out of the inside linebackers – progression out of the three rookies should help to solidify my hope for this position group.
Secondary: This unit continues to be a huge question mark for the Cleveland Browns. I am worried that no one has really stepped up in the cornerback group, but with Joe Haden’s return perhaps we are closer to a stable unit. Tramon Williams is not instilling a great deal of confidence, but I am not sure whether another guy (including Jamar Taylor and Justin Gilbert) can help with this. There are two new starting safeties from last year’s underperforming unit. I would like to believe that Jordan Poyer and Ibraheim Campbell can continue to progress, but seeing Rahim Moore and Pierre Desir perform well would surely help.