Demetric Felton made the kind of moves he showed all throughout the preseason. Grant Delpit showed the kind of closing speed that made him one of the top safeties in college football.
On Sunday, both of the first-year players showed off those skills for the first time in front of Browns fans at FirstEnergy Stadium. And boy, did they deliver when the Browns needed them most.
Felton and Delpit carry the load in our 3 Big Takeaways from Sunday's 31-21 win over the Texans.
1. Welcome to Cleveland, Demetric Felton …
This was the Felton whom Browns fans got to know in a hurry during training camp and the team's three preseason games.
Felton, the sixth-round pick out of UCLA, provided one of the NFL's top highlights from Week 2, as he took a quick screen from Baker Mayfield, made multiple Texans defenders miss, spun out of another tackle and raced into the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown. The score put Cleveland up for good in a physical game against a banged-up Texans team that simply wouldn't quit.
"It's a lot of things we work on in practice," said Felton, who was also productive as the Browns' return man on punts and kicks. "Making moves once you get to the second level. I just did what my coaches taught me to do, and it worked.
"It was awesome. It was a great experience. Everybody did their job and blocked for me and I was able to get in the end zone."
Felton wasn't done.
With the Browns looking to close out the Texans midway through the fourth quarter, Felton made one of the biggest plays on Cleveland's game-sealing touchdown drive. He took another short screen, juked the first would-be tackler and sprinted for an 18-yard gain that put the Browns in Texans territory. The Browns scored a few plays later on a Nick Chubb touchdown run to take the 31-21 lead they'd carry to the final whistle.
"Those are things I always knew he could do," Chubb said. "I'm glad he showed everyone here he can do it."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Texans in week two
2. … and Grant Delpit
Almost a year and a half since the Browns selected him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Delpit made his long-awaited NFL debut.
Delpit, who missed all of 2020 with an Achilles tear and Week 1 with a hamstring injury, played the first snaps of his NFL career as the Browns utilized him in three-safety sets that included starters Ronnie Harrison Jr. and John Johnson III. He more than acquainted himself, making multiple tackles for loss in the second half as the Browns tried to preserve their lead against a feisty Texans offense.
"I thought that was great," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "It was good to see from him to get some reps, first time out there playing, to make a big play when we needed it. I thought he did a nice job. We will have to grow that role as we go."
Delpit collected his first tackle in the second quarter before making his biggest impact in the second half. He dropped Texans QB Davis Mills for a 3-yard loss on a third-quarter drive before picking up his first NFL sack on the Texans' last-gasp drive near the end of the fourth quarter. Delpit was unblocked as he peeled around the edge on a blitz as Mills looked to the other side of the field. Delpit maintained his focus and delivered a clean hit to briefly jar the ball loose.
"That was a hell of a hit," DE Myles Garrett said.
Two plays later, the Texans were forced to settle for a field goal attempt, which they missed, and the game was over.
"I'm blessed by God, man," Delpit said. "It was a great feeling. We got a good win and I'm glad I could contribute to the win."
3. A lot to clean up
The Browns came away with a win, and that's what matters most, but there will be just as many coaching points after this game as there were following the Week 1 loss to Kansas City.
The Browns' offense couldn't find the same rhythm as it did the previous week, especially in the first half, and the unit committed two costly turnovers in the first 30 minutes. Defensively, the Browns forced just one incompletion to Texans starter Tyrod Taylor and allowed Mills to drive Houston down the field for a touchdown that sliced Cleveland's lead to three early in the fourth quarter.
Mayfield described the offense Sunday as "not real great."
"We didn't start well, we made the plays when we needed to later in the game. Turned the ball over twice again. Just not good," Mayfield said. "We're hurting ourselves. We need to learn from these mistakes. Obviously this week, it's better to learn from a win than a loss but we just have to be better."
Garrett said the Texans were particularly tough at the beginning of Sunday's game, when they unleashed some tendencies and formations they hadn't shown on film in their game the previous week against Jacksonville. It was Game No. 2 for Cleveland's revamped defense, and Garrett said the unit will continue to improve as it jells.
"It's cleaning up every time we play, each time we step on the field and the practice field," Garrett said. "I'm looking forward to when we really click and we're starting to get after guys."