The Browns had to like what happened in their preseason opener. From a successful two-minute drive to kick off the game to a punt return touchdown to cap it, Cleveland performed well overall. But there is still much work to be done, and there are multiple points of interest to monitor closely before the regular season begins. Here are three players to keep an eye on when the Browns battle the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Honorable mention – DE Chad Thomas
The second-year pass rusher was finally starting to show some signs of life. He put together a very solid performance against Washington. However, during practice on Monday, Thomas had to be immobilized and driven by ambulance to a local hospital after suffering a neck injury. It was a scary moment for the team, but fortunately Thomas was diagnosed with just a neck sprain, has feeling and movement in all his extremities, and was discharged from the hospital and returned to the team facility yesterday. He did travel to Indianapolis for Cleveland’s joint practices with the Colts, although he is listed day-to-day. If he does end up playing on Saturday, it will be interesting to see if he can keep some momentum from his strong game in Week 1 as he continues to fight for a spot in the Browns defensive line rotation.
3. CB Greedy Williams
The rookie defensive back had an up-and-down first NFL game. He showed a willingness to tackle, which was a major concern for him coming out of LSU. He also blew a coverage in the first quarter which resulted in Washington’s only touchdown. Later in the game, he intercepted his first pass. Williams is ridiculous talented, but is trying to show he is mentally prepared for the job of starting opposite of Pro Bowler Denzel Ward. He needs to improve his consistency, and will have a chance to do that against Indy.
2. QB Garrett Gilbert
The greatest quarterback in AAF history is in the midst of a backup QB battle, and had a very strong performance last week. He was constantly under pressure, but for the most part he made good decisions and got the ball out quickly and accurately. If Baker Mayfield (God forbid) goes down, Cleveland’s season will be over, but Gilbert looked like a very competent backup against the Redskins. Much better than Drew Stanton and David Blough, his competitors. The Browns will probably end up keeping three QBs, and with another good game, Gilbert could lock up the backup job.
1. RG Eric Kush
Kush has giant shoes to fill, as he is tasked with replacing Kevin Zeitler, arguably the best pass-blocking guard in the NFL. Kush played well for Chicago last season, albeit in a small sample size. He played most of the first quarter rather than only the first drive, as the rest of Cleveland’s starters did. Kush was not great in his first game action with Cleveland, and needs to have a better showing against the Colts. Denico Autry and Margus Hunt should be a good challenge for him, if they end up playing.