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5 Browns observations: The latest on Dwayne Bowe and more

A busy Thursday just got busier with news of the Browns' latest transaction.

Here's what we saw and heard throughout the day as Cleveland gets closer and closer to its season opener against the New York Jets.

Dwayne Bowe 'playing like a Brown,' John DeFilippo says


One day after Mike Pettine dismissed the concerns about Dwayne Bowe being listed as third-string on the depth chart, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo provided even more of an endorsement for the veteran wide receiver.

"Dwayne has been great," DeFilippo said. "He has been great since he stepped foot in this building. For a guy that had as much success has he has had, he bought into what we our doing. He bought into our plan and playing like a Brown. He has just had a little case of bad luck."

Bowe, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury for multiple weeks of training camp, caught one pass for 8 yards in the Browns' final two preseason games. He played deep into the third quarter in last week's preseason finale, a decision he called mutual between himself and the coaching staff.

The Browns' roster now boasts just six receivers with Thursday's release of Terrelle Pryor, and Bowe remains the biggest target in the group. He's a major part of what the Browns want to accomplish in 2015.

"I told Dwayne we expect more out of him," DeFilippo said. "It was disappointing that he got hurt so early. It was not all his fault that he hasn't been on the field. He didn't want to get hurt. I feel bad for the guy that he is in this predicament. At the same time we need Dwayne to come along here and be a big part of what we are doing."

Kick returner still 'up in the air'


As it stands today, veteran wide receiver Marlon Moore, who missed the second half of the preseason with injured ribs, is listed as the team's first-string kick returner. He's followed by defensive back Justin Gilbert, who is out with a hip flexor, and rookie Duke Johnson Jr., who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and concussion.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor kept his cards close to his vest Thursday when he was asked who would return the first kick Sunday.

"It's still up in the air a little bit right now," Tabor said. "I think we have a good plan going forward but we'll see how that unveils."

Moore returned the most kicks of anyone on the Browns last season, averaging 24.8 yards on 13 attempts. Johnson was a prolific return man at the University of Miami but has missed valuable practice time because of the injury. Gilbert was also a star in college but has been sidelined for weeks with the injury.

Barkevious Mingo a 'big part' of Browns defense


Jim O'Neil's expectations for Barkevious Mingo are high heading into the former first-round pick's third season.

Mingo missed most of training camp with a knee injury and did not play in any of the preseason games. He's participated in practice for more than a week, though, and is anticipated to play Sunday against the Jets.

"Mingo's going to be a big part of what we do defensively," O'Neil said. "He's going to be part of a rotation in base defense at Sam backer and he's going to help us in our sub package."

In two seasons, Mingo has 84 tackles, seven sacks and seven passes defensed. He played through almost every snap of 2014 with an injured shoulder. He's listed behind Scott Solomon at Sam.

'Words into Actions' still in effect


The preseason is over. The season opener is just a few days away. Still, Pettine is living by the mantra he laid out at the start of training camp.

"Words into Action" still very much applies when it comes to putting any labels on any area of the team. Asked Thursday where his current secondary ranks among the ones he's coached, Pettine stuck to his guns.

"We talk about wanting to be mentioned among the elite; we have to go out and show it. We have to prove it," Pettine said. "We've talked about we want to improve our run defense, but the backbone of us defensively is the secondary. It's comforting to know that we have that confidence back there and they we showed it on the field last year, at least statistically. I still think at times we have a chance to close the game we have to close the game. We don't want to be good; we want to be dominant, and that's the challenge for that room."

How the kicker competition was decided


Tabor made one thing clear when he was asked about the Browns' preseason kicking competition.

It wasn't easy.

Travis Coons ultimately came out on top in the head-to-head battle with Mayfield native Carey Spear, but there wasn't much separation between the two from a numbers standpoint. Tabor estimated there might have been a difference of just one miss between the two counting all the kicks attempted in practice.

Neither of the kickers missed any of their field goal attempts in the Orange and Brown scrimmage or any of the preseason games.

"They both did exceptionally well and honestly when you looked at their charts, statistically very very close," Tabor said. "Just felt with the little bit of the consistency of ball fly and those type of things. Travis did a nice job kicking off also we just felt like we're going to go with him."

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