CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – After naming Brock Osweiler the starting quarterback for the preseason opener Browns head coach Hue Jackson made it clear he was still keeping his options open.
Osweiler has a chance to go from an afterthought in March to the team’s Week 1 starter and he could solidify that position with a strong performance against the New Orleans Saints.
It remains unclear just how long Osweiler will be on the field, along with the rest of the starters, but if he is able to move the offense and provide them with scoring opportunities he’ll take a big step towards putting an end to this “competition.”
Cody Kessler will be the No. 2 after finally being demoted following a lackluster showing through the first 9 practices of camp as the No. 1.
Rookie DeShone Kizer appears to be the only competition left for Osweiler.
Kizer will be third off the bench which means he likely won’t see the field until the third quarter while Kevin Hogan will mop up at the end of the fourth.
What to Watch For – It starts with the No. 1 pick Myles Garrett. Garrett is anxious to hit someone, anyone not wearing an orange helmet. He said Tuesday that his goal is to have a “dominating performance” and send “a message” to the rest of the league in his first preseason game. Garrett has had an outstanding camp working his way up the depth chart and into the starting lineup. Outside of QB, Garrett is the main attraction, and for good reason.
– WR Nos. 3-4-5-6. Who will emerge as the third option behind Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt? Second-year receivers Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton should get plenty of opportunities to audition. Josh Boyce and Jordan Leslie have flashed at times during camp and could provide some competition from the 3 other wideouts selected in the 2016 draft.
– Check the slot for running back Duke Johnson. Jackson has used Johnson there often throughout camp and with questions at receiver it’s highly likely Johnson will be used there quite a bit this season in addition to catching balls out of the backfield.
– Seventh round pick Matthew Days has had a strong camp, and although he was drafted 1 spot ahead of Mr. Irrelevant, he’s hardly been that in practice but it’s time to show it in live game action. Dayes should see plenty of carries with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson expected to exit early.
– With 10-time pro bowl left tackle Joe Thomas spending much of camp in bubble wrap working on the side along with a few other key players during camp, it’s not expected he’ll see much time on the field Thursday. As a result Jackson will get a good extended look at Shon Coleman and Cameron Erving. Both are competing for the starting right tackle job and the 2 have been rotating on the left side in place of Thomas. It appears that Coleman, picked in the third round last year, has the edge over the 2015 first-round pick but Jackson praised Erving a few days ago as one of several players who have stood out to him.
– Cody Parkey and Zane Gonzalez have been trading kicks during training camp and now the competition moves to the pressure cooker that is game action. Parkey made 20 of 25 field goals last season for the Browns while the team spent a seventh round pick on Gonzalez, the 2016 Lou Groza award winner as college football’s top kicker. Only one will survive when the roster gets trimmed to 53.
– There are several familiar names on the defensive side of the ball that have found themselves down on the depth chart and in need of stacking strong performances together to improve their chances of making a move into Gregg Williams’ rotation – 2015 second-round pick Nate Orchard, 2015 third-round pick Xavier Cooper as well as 2017 third-round selection Larry Ogunjobi are atop that list.
Notable Connections – Browns DL Carl Nassib and Saints quarterback Ryan Nassib are brothers; Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams held the same position in New Orleans from 2009-11 and helped the Saints win their first Super Bowl (XLIV); Saints WR Ted Ginn and CB Marshon Lattimore played their high school football at Glenville High School in Cleveland.
The Last Time – Sept. 14, 2014: Browns 26, Saints 24
Series History – Preseason 1-1, regular season: Browns lead 13-4
Projected Starters – OFFENSE: WR Corey Coleman, LT Joe Thomas, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Shon Coleman, TE Randall Telfer, WR Kenny Britt, QB Brock Osweiler, RB Isaiah Crowell, FB Danny Vitale.
DEFENSE: DE Myles Garrett, DT Desmond Bryant, DT Danny Shelton, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, WILL Christian Kirksey, MIKE Tank Carder, SAM Jamie Collins, CB Joe Haden, CB Jamar Taylor, S Ibraheim Campbell, S Derrick Kindred.
Injury Report – DL Caleb Brantley (finger), DB Marcus Burley (face laceration), OL Gabe Ikard (concussion), TE David Njoku (back), DB Ed Reynolds II (knee) and DB Howard Wilson (knee-PUP).
Broadcast Information – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX, 850 AM and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network; TV: WEWS News 5
Kickoff – 8:00 p.m. – FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio