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5 players who shined in the Browns’ preseason opener

Posted Aug 11, 2017

Rookies and undrafted FAs stood out in win vs. Saints

The Browns rallied past the Saints on Thursday night in their preseason opener.

From first-overall pick Myles Garrett to two undrafted free agents, here are five players who shined in their 2017 debuts. 

DE Myles Garrett: The rookie defensive end continues to show why he was the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Garrett shined in his debut despite limited action and a handful of double teams, finishing with a two tackles (including one for a loss) and a hurry in which he bullied backup left tackle Khalif Barnes and forced quarterback Garrett Grayson into an incompletion.

“I played my game well,” Garrett said. “I got to where I wanted to go and played hard. I got to where I was supposed to.”

Browns head coach Hue Jackson added: “I thought he held his own. When he had an opportunity to rush, he rushed well and that there was a little pressure here and there. He made one play in the backfield, I did see that. I’ll watch more once I get an opportunity to see the tape.”

Garrett, who totaled 31 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M, is expected to play a significant role in Cleveland’s defense this fall.

QB DeShone Kizer: Kizer’s arm talent and general physical tools have been on display since the Browns drafted the former Notre Dame star in the second round. He showed off those traits Thursday night, passing for 184 yards on 11-of-18 throws, including a 45-yard touchdown to Jordan Payton with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Kizer, who played the most of the Browns quarterbacks behind Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler, also showed poise in the pocket and an advanced understanding of what New Orleans was trying to do on defense. “The Saints were straightforward with what they were going to do,” he said. “They’re going to play you man, they’re going to blitz you and if they’re going to do that you have to be able to take shots on a team like that.”

Kizer also completed a 52-yard pass to receiver Richard Mullaney that set up a touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter. Jackson praised the rookie’s performance but emphasized there’s room for improvement.

“Let’s see it for what it was. The guy made some plays at the end that gave us a chance to win, but there is still so much growth that needs to happen for this young player,” he said. “We all know he’s talented, as I said before, but there are still some things he needs to do better.”

Added Kizer, who worked with the third-team offense this past week: “This whole process, the goal is to gain confidence in everything that we’re doing,” Kizer added. “There’s a reason that we’re still in training camp after preseason game one, it’s because I am still in the developmental stage in my career.”

DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun: Once an undrafted rookie whom the Browns claimed off waivers one week before the 2016 season, Boddy-Calhoun — or better known as BBC by his teammates — continues to show why he’s poised to have a role on this Cleveland defense. Most notably last night, he blew up an end-around to Saints receiver Rashad Lawrence on 4th-and-goal late in the third quarter. BBC was one of three Browns to make three interceptions last season. In 14 games and six starts, he finished with 43 tackles and 11 pass breakups.

DL Nate Orchard: After being sidelined with an ankle injury for almost all of last season, Orchard made the most of his return to the field Thursday night.

The former second-round pick was seemingly all over the field, helping sack Grayson in the first quarter. “One thing in mind was to get to the quarterback as much as possible,” he said.

Orchard, who played linebacker his first two seasons, made the switch to defensive end this past offseason under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He started 11 games in 2015, recording 36 tackles, three sacks and an interception.

DL Trevon Coley: Perhaps the biggest surprise of training camp, Coley had a debut that validated an unexpected rise up the depth chart​, recording four tackles and strip-sack of Grayson in the second quarter that set up a Browns touchdown.

Coley, an undrafted free agent whom the Browns signed to their practice squad last year, said last week he’s focused on doing whatever the coaches tell him to.  “You always want to put your best foot forward in anything you do and try to help the team,” he said. “It’s whatever I can help the team, however way, that’s why I’m here."

Coley started every game in four years at FAU and left as one of the most productive players in school history, totaling 195 tackles, 12.5 sacks and an interception. He was his team’s captain and MVP his senior year, earning high marks for his “practice habits and energy” according to his NFL Draft profile.

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