Seven players competing for roster spots that stood out against Washington, will hopefully get more opportunities
Coming out of the preseason game against the Washington Redskins, some of the Cleveland Browns players competing for roster spots stood out and it's about seeing if they can keep it going and play consistently or just getting to see more of them to see if there's something really there.
Obviously, it starts with Mack Wilson. Wilson's two interceptions fueled what was nearly a perfect game according to Pro Football Focus for the rookie linebacker. He doesn't need to go out and intercept a pass every game to prove himself, but particularly in coverage, the more he's able to do the quicker he may carve out a niche for himself on Sundays.
Wilson has shown an ability in coverage that could really help the Browns right now if it's consistent. The hope is Chris Kirksey bounces back in a big way this year, but if he doesn't improve in coverage significantly, Wilson could find himself taking reps in obvious passing situations.
Devaroe Lawrence played two snaps in 2018. So far in camp and the preseason, he's looked like a player that's going to get at least double that many snaps in 2019. He was consistently disruptive against the Redskins and helped fight the notion that the depth at defensive tackle is terrible.
It'd be great to see Lawrence and Trevon Coley, some others get in against the ones to see if he can deliver an impact there while also keeping Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi limited in reps as they get ready for the regular season.
Chad Thomas showed a pulse against Washington, but the unfortunate injury he suffered this week makes it unclear when he will be able to get back out there to try to keep it going. The second year defensive end was non-existent as a rookie, but he did the job of a base end against the run and was effective with an inside move to generate some pressure.
Undrafted rookie Brian Fineangonofo had a nice debut at left tackle. He is more than athletic enough to do the job and offers great length in pass protection. He doesn't look comfortable or confident yet, but that hopefully comes with time and reps. Additionally, getting to see him to be a productive run blocker could go a long way in securing a roster spot on this team.
Mack Wilson understandably gets the attention for his game, but Willie Harvey came in and looked good as a run and chase linebacker who provided some pop as a tackler. With the Browns potentially only keeping five linebackers, if Wilson has secured himself the fourth linebacker spot, it's a question of who's going to get the fifth one. Harvey is competing against the likes of Adarius Thomas, Ray Ray Armstrong, among others as well as any potential player the Browns could bring in from the outside.
The safety position was pretty underwhelming overall, but undrafted rookie J.T. Hassell came out and played with the same intensity he did in college as a linebacker. He's extremely athletic, flies around and makes tackles. Special teams are critical for his chances to make the team, but he hit the ground running at strong safety.
Last but certainly not least and perhaps the best story of the first game is Damon Sheehy-Giuseppi. Continuing to make the Willie Mays Hayes story from Major League come to life, Giuseppi slept outside the facility, lied his way in and then convinced Alonzo Highsmith to give him a shot, he showed elite speed on his punt return touchdown.
It's really difficult to make a team as only a returner, so he has to keep it going. And if he can contribute elsewhere on special teams, that would help. It's a great story, the reaction by his teammates when he scored was fantastic and it was just a tremendous moment, period. He's got three more games to continue to make his case that he can make this team, but he's definitely succeeded in making everyone remember his name.