The NFL Preseason is becoming more and more of a glorified practice. Around the league teams are not risking their key players in the preseason, most starters to be exact. Cleveland Browns’ Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday that quarterback Baker Mayfield won’t be playing in Jacksonville Saturday. Mayfield will be one of quite a few starters who will watch from the sidelines.
Instead preseason serves as a time to see your depth or to give playing time to the guys that could really use the reps. For Cleveland, the offense is set in stone and offensive tackle Jedrick Wills is likely the only one who could use some snaps this early. Wills was a solid tackle in his rookie season, but he is only heading into his second year and could use some more sets. At this early in his career these snaps won’t hurt him, it also helps that he does not have the wear and tear on his body some others do on the offensive line. Even Wills shouldn’t play a ton and won’t.
With the offense there is not a ton of unfamiliarity. The defense can’t say the same completely outside of their pillars. Some of the newcomers should see some time this preseason, though it may not come in game one or even game two.
Greg Newsome ll and Greedy Williams
Opposite of Denzel Ward the Browns have a good battle of may the best man win going on. Williams is looking to bounce back from an entire year missed, as Newsome is looking to make his mark in the NFL early. Getting a look at the rookie early is pretty exciting.
This is a true position battle that will be resolved between training camp and preseason games. The two should see a decent amount of reps in these tune up games. Though, whoever starts doesn’t mean that both won’t play. Both have talent that will be needed in the secondary, both will see decent snap counts through the season. Health being the biggest factor for Williams, if he stays healthy it is only going to help his case.
With Ward sitting with starters often in the preseason, the team could potentially start the two a game or two. Not a bad idea to further gauge who you want to be your week one starter.
Defensive line depth
Potentially the most interesting thing about the entire season will be watching the Browns’ defensive line depth. With so much new on the interior after losing Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi, there are obvious question marks.
Malik Jackson was a nice signing by the team who will provide help inside and can get after the passer. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings is returning after opting out and some preseason reps wouldn’t hurt him after a year off. In fact, Billings could benefit from some of the reps no matter how many it is. Behind the two expected starters is where it gets fun.
Jordan Elliott is noted to have dropped some weight and to be a little quicker. The second year man should get some decent time in the preseason as he is looking to make a nice leap into year two. Rookies Tommy Togiai and Marvin Wilson should see plenty of time as well. Giving the rookies some run preseason could be a nice tune up. If the two are going to be some nice depth for this team in the middle, the preseason would be a good time to show it against someone not in orange and brown.
Sheldon Day and Damion Square will be a couple more names that can use the preseason to leave good impressions on the coaching staff. Malik McDowell has been battling an injury, so he’s up in the air to this point.
By now I’m sure you have seen some of the big plays that Peoples-Jones has made in practice. Local media, as well as the team media have put out videos of the second-year wideout making some nice plays. It is no surprise as the Michigan product played well in a limited role last season.
The wide receiver room isn’t friendly to Peoples-Jones when it comes to the depth chart. He’s behind the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and battling with Rashard Higgins for the third spot to this point. A really good camp could make it ideal for Peoples-Jones to bypass Higgins. He is on the team for the foreseeable future as Higgins is just on another one-year deal. Slowly progressing Peoples-Jones into a bigger role is best case scenario and it is seemingly heading that way.
Peoples-Jones could benefit from some preseason action and may even start a game or two with starters resting. Likely with Case Keenum at quarterback, Peoples-Jones will have a chance to make some plays in a more like game environment. With just three tuneup games it may be tough to have a ‘big preseason’, though one would certainly help the further development of this one.