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3 Big Takeaways: Jacoby Brissett takes 'stepping stone' with offense in preseason debut

Brissett completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 109 yards and one interception in his first taste of preseason action with the offense


The Browns lost 21-20 to the Bears in their final preseason game Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Here are three things that stood out from the loss:

Brissett performs well, but offense knows it needs more

The Browns started QB Jacoby Brissett in his preseason debut with the hope that the offense would find a rhythm, and the results were mixed.

Brissett completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 109 yards and one interception. The Browns didn't find the end zone with Brissett, but they did position themselves for two field attempts from Cade York, who missed the first of them from 58 yards and converted the second from 57 yards. The offense opened the game with most of their starters, but the group didn't include WR Amari Cooper, G Joel Bitonio, OT Jack Conklin and RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Despite not finding the end zone, Brissett looked smooth commanding the huddle and executed the correct pass decisions — his interception happened after WR Anthony Schwartz fell down after he was hit from a defender before the pass could reach him. Brissett attempted to stretch the field, too, and unloaded a couple deep balls to Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones, but the passes fell incomplete.

"We wanted to move the ball more consistently as an offense early," Stefanski said. "I thought Jacoby saw it very clearly in terms of coverage, and he did a nice job operating in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage."

One bright spot of Brissett's outing: He completed six of his 13 completions to WR David Bell and TE David Njoku. Each of them caught three passes, with Bell totaling 36 yards and Njoku compiling 34, and will be among the guys Brissett must build chemistry with in the regular season for the Browns' pass game to stay steady.

The Browns felt they achieved what they needed with Brissett, and now they'll look to build on it in the two weeks of practices they have left until the Week 1 opener in Charlotte.

"Today was a good stepping stone," Brissett said. "Getting in and out of the huddle, calling the plays and hearing them from Kev, I thought today was good."

York continues to show off strong leg

The Browns received an impressive gauge on just how far York can kick a football in pregame warmups when the fourth-round rookie from LSU nailed a 70-yard field goal, and they put his leg to the test, although from not quite as far of a distance, in the actual game.

York missed his first kick from 58 yards with the ball veering just left of the upright, but he rebounded with kicks from 57 and 46 yards later in the game. Such a bounceback isn't easy to find for rookie kickers, but the recovery showed just how much confidence York carries.

"You'd like to see the ball go in," Stefanski said. "That's good for him, but he doesn't lack confidence."

York will end the preseason with two missed field goals, both of which from 50 yards or more. He missed a 55-yarder last week that bounced off the upright against the Eagles but recovered then, too, with a 50-yard conversion.

Both York's preseason misses were no good because of the direction and not power, which he displayed plenty of in the last month. His 70-yarder from warmups and 57-yard field goal emphasized that point even further.

Check out photos of the Bears against the Browns in week three of the preseason

Difficult cut decisions loom

The Browns have several tough decisions ahead in the next 72 hours as they attempt to trim their roster from 80 to 53 players.

A few of the performances from Saturday might make those calls even tougher.

S D'Anthony Bell, who is competing for the fourth safety spot on the roster with Richard LeCounte III and Jovante Moffatt, forced a fumble late in the game on Bears RB De'Montre Tuggle. TE Miller Forristall, who's competing for the third tight end spot, caught a touchdown. WR Javon Wims is in the mix for any of the final spots the Browns are looking to fill at the position and led the Browns with four catches for 41 yards, including an impressive 20-yard grab.

The Browns have a talented roster, one that has good depth at several positions, which means tough decisions will have to be made before Tuesday's 4 p.m. cut deadline. Stefanski welcomes those difficult calls, though, because it means the roster should be in good shape for the regular season.

"It's going back to April with what they've done in practice and obviously in preseason games and training camp practices," Stefanski said. "They acquitted themselves well. They worked very hard, and we'll see on all these decisions how it all shakes out. I just told the team, 'You'd love to keep everybody, but the reality is you keep 53 and some guys on the practice squad.'"

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