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Rookie Kicker Among Browns Standouts in Victory over Panthers

The Cleveland Browns were able to get to 1-0 on the season due to key contributions from a variety of players and position groups.
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The Cleveland Browns had terrific performances by key players and some abysmal mistakes by others in their opening week victory against the Carolina Panthers. A game that looked like the Browns would control at multiple points in the game required a 58-yard field goal from rookie Cade York in order to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat which had just barely survived a brutal attack from victory.

Standouts

Browns Secondary

When they were in position, they were great in coverage, making it difficult for Mayfield to find receivers and causing a turnover with a Grant Delpit interception. Unfortunately, they had two key blown coverages which led directly to two Panthers touchdowns. 

Mayfield had 235 yards on the game and 125 of those came on wide open passes. One to tight end Ian Thomas near the end of the first half that went for 50 yards and set up a two-yard McCaffrey touchdown run. The other was a 75-yard touchdown to Robbie Anderson. Both involved confusion between safeties and corners as to which player was responsible in coverage. Combined with a horse collar personal foul from John Johnson III, the secondary would've warranted a substantial amount of the blame had the Browns lost. For a unit where the Browns have invested so many resources, and has talked about their desire to be recognized as the best in the league, they can't keep having these types of issues.

Demetric Felton, Wide Receiver/Punt Returner

The Browns lost Jakeem Grant to a torn Achilles' and had no backup plan to return punts. Felton looked completely lost in the early part of the game, scrambling to catch a couple punts and muffing one the Browns were fortunate to get back. He did settle in a little bit, but the Browns have little room for error and a turnover on a punt return would be a disaster.

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Given the limitations on the Browns offense, punt returns can produce meaningful yardage, reducing the burden on the offense. Felton averaged 5.8 yards on five return attempts, which is pitiful.

That area of the game needs to at least be functional and simply cannot be yet another weakness on a team with plenty of them. This reflects poorly on special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who has led a bottom tier unit in his tenure with the Browns.