There weren’t many big-time Cleveland Browns who played in the Hall of Fame game vs. the New York Jets Thursday night. One player who did make a meaningful NFL preseason debut was rookie right tackle Dawand Jones. The former Ohio State Buckeye played the entire game, and afterward, head coach Kevin Stefanski explained why.
After the Hall of Fame game, where the Browns beat the Jets 21-16, a reporter asked Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski if rookie right tackle Dawand Jones — the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — was tired after his performance on the field.
“Well, he played the entire game, so he should be tired. Although, he was just dancing in the locker room, so I don’t know how tired he is,” Stefanski joked before explaining why he played him the whole game. “First reps out there for the kid. He’s played in big games, as we all know, so he will just continue to get better.”
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) August 4, 2023
Playing Jones the whole game was about the youngster's development because he likely won’t play much if at all, this season unless there is an injury. The Browns have one of the best and most stable O-lines in the league. While there will be some competition for the center positions, tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. and guards Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio are the ensconced starters.
Cleveland needs to play Jones in the NFL preseason to see what they have in their new 6-foot-8, 375-pound mountain of a tackle. Playing him the entire game was likely also a check of the big man’s fitness levels as well.
The Browns know what they have on the O-line in 2023 outside of their rookies, so getting Jones — and his Ohio State teammate, center Luke Wypler — is a priority before the season begins.
And the way Jones played was a good sign that the team may also have excellent depth this season as well as talent and experience in the starting group.